A 16-month-old girl who had been reported missing in Joliet, Illinois, was found dead in the home she lived with family members and other people.
According to The Chicago Tribune, after a 30-hour search Semaj Crosby’s body was found early Thursday morning after she was reported missing on Tuesday afternoon while playing outside a block away. The police are calling the toddler’s death “suspicious” and an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
Rick Ackerson, deputy chief of the sheriff’s office, told the press on Thursday that Crosby’s body was found in a “deplorable condition.” He wouldn’t divulge where in the house she was found and whether there were any signs of sexual assault.
However, he did shed light on her living situation saying that at any given time there could be up to 15 people living in the home and referred to the extra tenants as “squatters.” Upon inspection of the house after finding the dead toddler, the police have “deemed the house uninhabitable and red-tagged it.”
One man who helped with the neighborhood search, Adrian Smith, told NBC 5 that he was not surprised Crosby was so close all along.
“I didn’t think she would have gotten too far… for 16 months [old]?” Smith said. “She wouldn’t have gotten too far anyway, unless somebody came and picked her up. She was only 16 months old.”
There are many questions swirling including:”If she was thought to be missing when playing outside how did her body end up in the house?” And “How did the authorities miss finding her body when they searched the house the first time?”
First, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services claimed that they conducted a home visit three hours before Crosby went missing—and everything seemed fine. Crosby’s mother, Sheri Gordon, was currently being investigated for neglect.
“DCFS had been at the home on April 25 at approximately 3:20 p.m. and had seen all three of the mother’s children including Semaj,” DCFS spokeswoman Alissandra Calderon said in an emailed statement. “There were no obvious hazards or safety concerns at that time.”
After police were notified about the missing toddler, they claim they searched the house looking in “obvious” places and found nothing. But as the Tribune pointed out, the FBI and local authorities returned later that night and with the help of the family’s attorney found her body around midnight.
During the outside search Crosby’s mother pleaded for those to bring her baby home: “I just want her home with mommy. I just want her home with me.That’s my baby girl, that’s my only girl.”
It’s unknown if anyone is under arrest at this time.
This is a developing story, we will provide updates as they become available.