A former Wichita mayor and gubernatorial candidate said members of his family made unsuccessful efforts to confirm the safety of his 3-year-old grandson before a body that police believe is the boy's was found encased in concrete.
Carl Brewer said "something went wrong," although it's too early to know whether the system failed Evan Brewer, The Wichita Eagle reports. Official identification of the remains found Saturday in a rental home where Evan's mother, Miranda Miller, and her boyfriend, Stephen Bodine, had been living is awaiting DNA results.
Police made the gruesome discovery after a landlord, who had evicted Miller and Bodine, noticed a strange odor while going through the home. A custody dispute between Brewer's son, Carlo Brewer, and Miller had led to Miller's arrest earlier last week.
Miller, 36, has been charged with aggravated interference with parental custody and Bodine, 40, with aggravated assault. No one has been charged in connection with the boy's death.
The attorney representing them in the criminal case, Mark Orr, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Carl Brewer said his son worked through the court system, the state child protective agency and police, to raise concerns about Evan. Carl Brewer said Republican Gov. Sam Brownback told him he would look into welfare officials' involvement.
"You can't help think, 'What could have been done?'" said Brewer, who served as Wichita mayor from 2007 to 2015. The Democrat is taking a break from his campaign for governor.
Carl Brewer and his wife, Cathy Brewer, said their son and Miller had a relationship that fell apart and had an informal agreement to share custody of Evan. But eventually Miller wanted her son to have no contact with his father's family, the Brewers said. They had to send presents for him through a third party. Miller stopped allowing visitation around early March, they said.
In July, Carlo Brewer obtained a protection from abuse order on behalf of the boy. The petition seeking it detailed multiple reports of abuse dating back more than a year made to the Kansas Department for Children and Families. It cites four complaints dating as far back as July 2016 and as recently as April. One allegation references an injury to his nose and contends the boy was "filthy and without appropriate clothing."
Wichita police Lt. Jeff Gilmore said authorities conducted surveillance and contacted neighbors in an effort to locate Miller, who was named in the protection from abuse order. Police concluded she was eluding law enforcement and had likely left the state.
The State Department for Children and Families told CBS affiliate KWCH they aren't releasing information about Evan Brewer's case because it remains an open investigation. The department said it would release the case file once DNA confirms the child's identity.
The Brewers have a daughter who once worked for DCF and a niece who is an attorney, and they and other family members began discussing what could be done for Evan. Brewer family members and concerned neighbors began protesting nightly in August in front of the home where the boy was supposed to be living, with signs saying, "Where's Evan?" and "Give us Evan." Police tried to check on the boy, sometimes banging on the door, Cathy Brewer said.
Video posted to Facebook by the child's stepmother and obtained by CBS affiliate KWCH shows one of the protests at the home, in which family and friends are seen seeing carrying the child's missing person fliers, one man pleading through a megaphone for his safe return.
Another video shot at the home and obtained by KWCH shows Carlo Brewer confronting Miller and Bodine, the boy's stepmother told the station.
"Where is my son?" A man is heard saying.
Another man is heard replying, "Get the [expletive] off my property." A woman then says, "Not your property."
Cathy Brewer and her husband suspect that the body wasn't found immediately after Miller and Bodine's arrest because police had been looking for a living child. Instead the body was in a workbench filled with concrete that Carl Brewer called a "concrete coffin."
He said the only thing that they know is there was a "loved" and "happy" little boy who "lost his life for no reason."