WICHITA, Kan. — Police in Kansas believe they have found the body of a missing toddler encased in concrete, and his mother and her boyfriend are in custody in connection to the case.
Evan Brewer, 3, of Wichita, was missing since at least July 6, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Wichita Eagle reported Wednesday that gubernatorial candidate and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer confirmed that Evan was his grandson.
"We are devastated by the death of our sweet and loving grandson, Evan," Brewer said in a statement obtained by the Eagle. "We cannot begin to make sense of this tragedy, but are thankful the suspects are in custody. We request prayers and privacy for our family during this difficult time and while the police continue their investigation."
Police officials said the identity of the body has not been made official. DNA results will take up to two weeks to confirm whether Evan is the child found in the concrete.
During the time Evan was missing, he was believed to be with his mother, Miranda Ryann Miller. Miller was suspected of having left the state with the toddler.
Police now believe that Evan was in Kansas all along.
Wichita police Lt. Jeff Gilmore said during a Tuesday news conference that the body believed to be Evan's was found Saturday after the landlord of a rental property discovered a suspicious block of concrete that emitted a foul odor. The concrete structure was found inside a rental house where Miller and her boyfriend, Stephen Michael Bodine, had been living.
Bodine, 40, and Miller, 36, were already in the Sedgwick County Jail when Evan’s body was found. Jail records show that Bodine is charged with aggravated interference with parental custody, two counts of aggravated assault and a single charge of criminal damage to property.
Miller is charged with aggravated interference with parental custody. Both were arrested Aug. 30 after police said they eluded officers trying to serve Miller with a court order intended to protect her son from abuse.
"Child deaths are always difficult cases," Gilmore said. "The circumstances surrounding this particular case have been difficult for the family, the first responders and the community."
Gilmore said police officials’ thoughts and prayers were with the boy, his family and all who were impacted by his death.
Watch the entire police news conference below.
The lieutenant said the case began in March, when Evan’s father, Carlo Brewer, went to the police department and the state Department of Children and Family to express concerns for his son’s safety. An investigation was initiated and, in April, allegations of abuse surfaced.
A judge on July 6 granted Brewer an order of protection from abuse on his son’s behalf, Gilmore said. Officers attempting to serve Miller with that protection order said they could not find her or her son.
"Information received during this investigation was that the mother had left the state with the child, and we had no specific location," Gilmore said.
By late August, Wichita police investigators determined that Miller was aware of the court order and was actively eluding them so she could not be served with the document, the lieutenant said.
Miller and Bodine were found in Wichita -- without Evan -- on Aug. 30 and taken into custody, Gilmore said. Police continued trying to find the missing boy.
Bodine’s landlord, who evicted them from the residence following their arrest, stumbled upon the body three days later, the lieutenant said.
Gilmore declined to release any additional information about the investigation.
“We understand the interest in this case and the questions surrounding it,” he said. “However, this involves the death of a 3-year-old child. We do not want to do anything that could compromise or hinder this investigation.”
Neighbors near the S. Vine Street cul-de-sac where Bodine and Miller lived told the Eagle that they never saw the boy there. They did see a protest held a few weeks ago outside Bodine's rental home.
Resident Toni Freund said about 30 to 40 people chanted outside the house.
"They were just saying, 'Bring him home,'" Freund told the newspaper.
Freund and other residents said they also saw missing persons fliers posted throughout the neighborhood in hopes of finding Evan.
Fliers were also posted on social media, where the toddler’s family members expressed hope that he would soon be found safe.
Following Saturday’s discovery, that hope turned to grief.
Miller's brother, Jason Bezdek, told KSNW-TV in Wichita that he never got to meet his nephew because he lives in Florida, but he enjoyed getting photos and videos of the boy from Miller.
"He's happy, he's having fun with his mom. They are smiling together," Bezdek said about Evan in the images he received.
He said that his sister seemed to be doing all right. When he heard on Saturday that his nephew’s body had been found buried in concrete, he “lost it.”
“I will never get to hold him. I will never get to hold his little hand,” Bezdek said.
He said Evan was his sister’s “whole life,” but that she struggled with drugs in the past.
Her niece, Amanda Dudziak, agreed.
"The only thing I know is that Evan is the child that she's always wanted, and she was a loving and nurturing mom until drugs got in the way of that," Dudziak told the news station. "I've known her for 14 years, and the past couple of years, this Mandy is someone I don't even recognize."
She said their family is heartbroken over the boy’s death.
"Evan should be here with us today," Dudziak said. "He did not deserve this."
Cox Media Group