HARVEY COUNTY, Kan. A little more than six months after a private investigator found his body in rural southeast Harvey County, a community remembers Lucas Hernandez on his sixth birthday Monday (Dec. 3).
At a makeshift memorial for the boy in a remote area north of Wichita, supporters and family added decorations and toys to wish him a happy birthday. The memorial is smaller than it was in the days and weeks that followed Lucas' discovery, but it's a special spot for family of Lucas and members of the group that spent hours every day searching for him.
The group that gathered each day to search and a wider community across Wichita, Kansas and beyond extended moral support as days followed Lucas' disappearance last February.
Three months after the search for Lucas began, Emily Glass, the woman who often watched Lucas -- the boy's father's girlfriend -- led the private investigator to the spot where Lucas' body was found under a culvert near 96th Street and South Woodlawn in southeast Harvey County.
it wasn't long after the discovery that Glass killed herself. Lucas' cause of death remains unknown.
After Lucas was found, Lea Jarrell with the search group "Finding Lucas Hernandez" touched on the mixed emotions with the discovery. On one hand, grief came with news that the little boy was dead. On the other was a sense of relief with some closure the news finally brought to Lucas' family and many more who cared for the boy
"When I got out here, we all went through anger. We went through crying and as much as we wanted to find him and stuff, it was heartbreaking to finally have closure and an end to it," Jarrell said a couple days after Lucas was found.
More than six months later, similar emotions remain on Lucas' birthday. There's relief he's not forgotten nor unaccounted for, but grief remains for the young life taken so soon.
On Lucas' sixth birthday, his family focuses on times enjoyed with the boy.Lucas' aunt, Bethany Jones spoke with Eyewitness News about the happiness shared last year when he turned five.
"I remember how happy he was when we sang 'Happy Birthday' to him," Jones says. "...His mom and I spent his birthday with him and it was a really special day."
While focused on the fond memories, Jones says it's a difficult time for the family on the first birthday without Lucas and approaching the first Christmas without the boy
"Today is a very hard day and the closer we get to Christmas, it's kind of getting harder and harder, and we appreciate all the love and support everybody has given us, and we're very thankful for everyone," Jones says.
Monday night, Lucas' mother, Jamie Orr, shared a similar message of gratitude for the support her families received. She says the display honoring Lucas in southeast Harvey County shows how much the community continues to rally behind his story.
"Through all this, we lost Lucas, but we gained a couple dozen new family members," Orr says.