Kim and George Hermance suffered the tragedy every parent fears the most, the loss of a child. Emily Hermance [who had severe CP] died four years ago, 11 days before her 13th birthday. She was asphyxiated when she got stuck between the bed rail and mattress of her special therapeutic bed in the family’s Clarence Center home.
That Tuesday afternoon, two days after Emily’s death, the State Police asked her parents to go to the barracks to answer a few questions.
The Hermances also had questions: What happened to Emily? How had she died?
They were told that the medical examiner had an idea, but investigators weren’t willing to share that idea with them.
For the next 2 to 3 hours, the grieving parents sat in separate rooms, as investigators questioned them individually about Emily’s death.
Investigators accused her of putting a pillow over her daughter’s head and smothering her, she said.
Her husband had to take off his shirt, to show there were no defensive wounds on him.
“Did you smother your daughter?” he was asked.
“I was completely irate,” George Hermance said. “I’m sitting there trying to get through this incredible grief, and then these guys think I murdered my daughter.”
Unbeknownst to the Hermances, the medical examiner determined that Emily died from asphyxia, caused by compression of the neck. And the medical examiner checked the box for homicide.
That evening, back home, the Hermances found a black van in their driveway and a K-9 unit parked across the street. About 10 law enforcement officers went into their home, to dismantle the bed and remove any other evidence.
And they heard one law enforcement official say, “We believe someone in this house killed Emily.”
Months later, their attorney obtained copies of the autopsy that listed the death as a homicide.
“I’m thinking the police are going to arrest me — or George or my son — tomorrow, that our whole life that already had fallen apart and you’re trying to put it back together is going to fall apart again,” Kim said. “I just sobbed.”
Meanwhile, Child Protective Services workers pursued their investigation of the family that fall, even going to [son] George III’s school.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.