Semaj Crosby, 16-months old, was last seen about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, 2017 playing with six or eight other children outside her home in Joliet, Illinois.
The mother reported Semaj missing on Tuesday, sparking a massive hunt involving dozens of volunteers and law enforcement officers, as well as drones and bloodhounds.
Semaj disappeared from outside the house shortly after a visit from Department of Children and Family Services officials who were investigating an allegation of neglect made against the mother. The officials saw Semaj and her two other siblings. Less than two hours later, Semaj was reported missing.
DCFS has been working with the family since September 2016, with two pending investigations for neglect opened in March 2017, agency officials said.
The sheriff’s office and FBI executed a search warrant Wednesday at Semaj’s home and found her body about an hour later, stuffed in a couch.
Until they found her body, the sheriff’s department said investigators suspected that Semaj had probably wandered off and perhaps had hidden herself somewhere and fallen asleep.
Deputy Chief Rick Ackerson described the conditions of the home as “deplorable” at a press conference this morning.
Between five and 15 people live in the home at any given time, most of whom are “squatters,” Ackerson said. Three children between the ages of 16 months and 13 years, including Semaj, live in the home with their mother.
An autopsy on Thursday did not rule on Semaj’s cause and manner of death, and toxicology results are pending. While Ackerson called Semaj’s death “suspicious,” it has not yet been ruled a homicide.
Ackerson said the investigation was hindered by Semaj’s mother’s refusal until late Wednesday night to allow authorities to search the house. The mother initially spoke to investigators, but later refused to answer questions and she retained an attorney.
Ackerson said it wasn’t clear who was in the house when Semaj disappeared, explaining that the attorney for the mother said that many squatters “come and go as they please.”…
Really? A lot of suspect in this case!