Edward and Linda Bryant have been accused of theft, forgery and several other related offenses. But are they also guilty of murdering two adoptive children, then continuing to collect aid checks in their names? That's what El Paso County authorities are trying to figure out -- and evidence is starting to accumulate that one of the boys in question suffered horrific abuse prior to his disappearance.
According to reports, law enforcement began to look into the case after being contacted by Ricky and Bryan Pennington, whose foster-care mom -- Tammy Falgout, the daughter of Linda Bryant -- began caring for them in 2003. Around that time, the pair met a boy named Austin, who'd been adopted by Edward and Linda. Years later, Bryan ran into James Bryant, another of the couple's adopted kids, and James suggested that his parents had killed Austin years earlier -- probably around 2003, when he was around seven-years old. Earlier this year, Ricky convinced Bryan to take this tip to the cops, whose investigation led them to suspect that another of the Bryants' adoptive children, Edward, had disappeared in 2001, at approximately age nine.
An affidavit shares Bryan's tales of Austin's abuse at the hands of his parents. They allegedly shocked him with a Taser, left him with black eyes and cuts on his face, and locked him in a trunk in the family garage, from which banging noises could be heard.
After the boys vanished, the Bryants allegedly kept collecting monthly $1,783 checks for their care doled out by the El Paso County Department of Human Services even after moving from Colorado to Texas.
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Look below to see mug shots of Edward and Linda, an El Paso County Sheriff's Office release about the case, and heartrending photos of Austin and Edward before their disappearance.
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El Paso County Sheriff's Office release:
On January 22, 2011 the El Paso County Sheriff's Office took a report of a suspicious incident involving the alleged disappearance of a child identified as Austin Bryant. Investigation into this matter revealed Austin was last seen sometime between 2003 and 2005. Detectives conducted follow up interviews with family members of Austin and it was further determined a second child is also unaccounted for by the name of Edward Bryant. No missing persons report has ever been filed with the Sheriff's Office or surrounding law enforcement agencies.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is seeking assistance from the community regarding these two missing children. We are actively looking into the disappearance of Austin Eugene Bryant, who would be 15 years old. Austin is said to have disappeared as early as 2003 when he would have been 7 years old. The second child is identified as Edward Dylan Bryant, who would be 18 years old. Edward is believed to have gone missing as early as 2001 when he would have been 9 years old.
Austin and Edward are the adoptive children of 58 year old Edward Bryant and 54 year old Linda Bryant of Texas. The Bryant's lived in a home located in the 18000 block of Granite Circle from 1999 to 2005. We will be conducting a neighborhood canvass and following other investigative leads to try to determine more details surrounding the disappearance of these children.
If anyone has information regarding Austin Bryant or Edward Bryant, please contact the El Paso County Sheriff's Office at 719-390-5555.
Linda and Edward Bryant have been contacted and arrested in Texas for receiving an ongoing financial subsidy from the El Paso County Department of Human Services despite the fact Austin and Edward were not residing with them. They have been extradited to back to Colorado and are in custody at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center.
Their charges are as follows:
Edward Eugene Bryant:
Felony Theft (2 counts)
Attempt to Influence a Public Official (19 counts)
Offering a False Instrument for Recording (19 counts)
Forgery (19 counts)
Bond has been set at $1 million dollars
Linda Kay Bryant:
Felony Theft (2 counts) Conspiracy
Attempt to Influence a Public Official (46 counts)
Offering a False Instrument for Recording (46 counts)
Forgery (46 counts)
Bond has been set at $1 million dollars