Updated 04/27/13 – 4:44 p.m.
MAYWOOD, Ill. (CBS) – Volunteers and police officers returned to the Des Plaines River on Saturday to resume searching for the body of a missing toddler from Maywood.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports – with up to 10 dogs in tow – more than 50 volunteers, police officers and trained searchers fanned out along the river, looking for any sign of Bryeon Hunter.
Authorities have said the 20-month-old Maywood boy was beaten to death and dumped in the river two weeks ago.
“From what we know, he was thrown in naked,” Maywood Police Chief Tim Curry said.
Volunteers showed up a few hours before police officers resumed the official search.
K-9 trainer and volunteer search coordinator, Robert Larson coordinated a volunteer search party that began Saturday at 6 a.m., gathering at the McDonald’s at First Avenue and Lake Street, in Maywood.
“It’s like nobody cares about this boy and the efforts. There have been no efforts that anyone can see. If that was my boy, I’d want everyone out there looking,” Larson said.
Throughout the morning, more than two dozen volunteers showed up to help search the river banks equipped with search dogs, shovels, and rope. A woman who helped in the search Friday night even returned to donate a canoe.
Curry said officials expect Bryeon’s body should have surfaced by now.
“At this point, he should, and if he did come to the surface, we’d also have to be concerned that the currents would have swept him even further downstream,” he said.
Bryeon’s mother, Lakesha Baker, and her boyfriend, Michael Scott, have both been charged with his murder.
Prosecutors said they would repeatedly beat Bryeon with belts and hangers, because he wasn’t learning to use the toilet. When he wasn’t being beaten, prosecutors said Baker and Scott forced him to sit on the toilet for days on end.
Curry described the alleged abuse succinctly.
“It’s torture,” he said.
Police said Baker admitted to making up a story about being kidnapped and beaten by three Hispanic men, who then ran away with her son.
The mother even told her story for our CBS 2 cameras, with two black eyes.
Jermaine Porter, who lost her 16-year-old son to gun violence a decade ago, was part of the search team. She said hearing the story of Bryeon’s all-too-short life compelled her to search for the missing boy.
“I’m loking in the river every day. I drive down First Avenue, and I’m praying every day. Maybe he’ll just run out in the street,” she said, choking back tears.
Maywood Trustee Ronald Rivers said he has resigned himself to the fact that Bryeon will never run again, but he can’t accept the possibility he won’t receive a proper funeral.
Finding Bryeon’s remains has been challenging, because of last week’s heavy rains that flooded the Des Plaines River.
Many volunteers told CBS 2’s Courtney Gousman they traveled from areas like Des Plaines, and different parts of Chicago to help with the search. All say they were moved by Bryeon’s tragic story and want to be able to help bring some closure to this case.
Maywood Police also began searching around 9 a.m. in four different areas, including where Madison Street meets the Des Plaines River. A number of other groups showed-up to take advantage of the warmer temperatures and to help with the search.
Police tried searching the Des Plaines River earlier this month, but turned-up empty-handed, and suspended the search after flooding last week.
Volunteers said they will search each day until sundown, until Bryeon’s remains are found.