A newly unsealed arrest warrant paints a picture of alleged abuse against two adopted Colorado boys who have been missing as far back as 2001, including starvation and confinement by being "rolled like a burrito."
The boys' adoptive parents -- Edward E.R. Bryant, 58, and Linda Bryant, 54 -- are being held on multiple charges, including continuing to collect $174,816 in government money to care for the boys, even though the two had been missing for years. Bail is set at $1 million each.
They have not been charged in connection to the disappearance of the boys, who would now be teenagers and might never be found, authorities concede.
"We've received inconsistent stories about what happened to the boys," El Paso County (Colorado) Sheriff Terry Maketa said. "Everything from, 'They went to live with an uncle' to, 'They ran away' to, 'They've been institutionalized.' Their stories have been all over the map."
Detectives consider the case an "ongoing homicide investigation" and are trying to find out exactly what happened to Austin Eugene Bryant and brother Edward Dylan Bryant. Court documents say that the last time anyone can verify Austin's being alive is 2003, when the boy was 7. He would now be 15. Edward was last seen alive when he was 9, in 2001. He would be 18 now.
Authorities have turned to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to age digitally photographs of the boys to try and estimate what they might look like today. A spokesman for the FBI's Denver Division says agents have been asked to help the investigation.
Sheriff Maketa said the case came to light after a tip provided "out of the blue" by two young men who were part of Austin and Edward's extended family. Brothers Ricky and Bryan Pennington had recently begun wondering what ever happened to Austin.
Ricky and Bryan were placed into foster care in 2003 with Tammy and Robert Falgout. Tammy Falgout is the daughter of Linda Bryant, who adopted the missing boys.
Bryan Pennington said he had "repeatedly observed Austin Bryant being physically abused" by Edward and Linda Bryant, according to an affidavit. He told detectives the Bryants would roll Austin in blankets "so he could not move and looked similar to a mummy."
Austin told Bryan Pennington that the Bryants had used a taser to shock him, leaving his body covered in welts, according to the affidavit
"Mr. Pennington stated he also frequently observed Austin had black eyes and cuts on his face," the affidavit says.
Bryan Pennington said Austin told him that he was frequently locked in a trunk originally kept in Linda and Edward Bryant's closet, but eventually moved to the garage.
Bryan Pennington told investigators he frequently heard "banging noises" coming from the garage.
"Mr. Pennington stated he believes the banging was Austin in the trunk in the garage," detectives wrote in court documents.
Years later, Bryan Pennington met James Bryant, one of Linda and Edward Bryant's nine adopted children.
Bryan asked James if he had heard from or seen his adopted brother Austin. James Bryant told Bryan that he had not seen Austin and said he believed his adoptive parents Edward and Linda Bryant had caused the boy's death, according to the affidavit.