Hopes of finding a missing Chicago-area toddler were lost when the 16-month old’s body was found dead in a home early Thursday, not far from where she was last seen earlier this week.
According to the Will County sheriff’s office, little Semaj Crosby’s body was discovered around midnight in the house in Joliet Township, Ill., about an hour southwest of Chicago, which is where she was playing before she disappeared Tuesday evening.
Semaj’s family reported her missing around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, about three hours after investigators with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services saw at the home, officials said.
“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 told the Chicago Tribune in a statement. “There were no obvious hazards or safety concerns at that time.”
DCFS has been investigating the girl’s mother for alleged neglect, Calderon said.
“We have had prior contact with this family, including four unfounded investigations for neglect and two prior pending investigations for neglect opened in March 2017,” she said. “DCFS has been working with the family, offering services since September 2016.”
The Tribune reports that after the girl was reported missing, authorities scoured the neighborhood and searched nearby creeks and ponds. Volunteers were also asked to search nearby fields and to be on the lookout for articles of clothing that may be suspicious or out of place.
“We looked everywhere,” Loretta Westbrooks, a volunteer from Joliet, said Wednesday afternoon. “We have searched every block.”
As of Thursday, no other details have been released. Authorities say they plan to hold a news conference about the case later in the day.