CHICAGO (CBS) — As police and FBI agents continued to search for a missing 16-month-old girl near Joliet, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said it is investigating her mother for an allegation of neglect.
The Will County Sheriff’s office said 1-year-old Semaj Crosby was reported missing around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Her family said they were working on a car outside their home near Luana Road and Richards Street in unincorporated Joliet Township, and Semaj was playing with other children in the back yard, but wandered off.
So far, a search for Semaj has come up empty.
“As of this time, Semaj has not been located,” Richard Ackerman, deputy chief of investigations, told reporters at a media briefing Wednesday afternoon in Joliet. Police temporarily suspended the search late in the evening, citing rainy weather.
Meantime, DCFS said it is investigating Semaj’s mother for neglect, and had visited the home about three hours before the toddler vanished.
“We have had prior contact with this family including four unfounded investigations for neglect and two prior pending investigation for neglect opened in March 2017. 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. There were no obvious hazards or safety concerns at that time. DCFS has been working with the family, offering services since September 2016,” DCFS spokeswoman Veronica Resa said in an email.
Deputy Chief Tom Budde said about 80 people have been searching for Semaj since Tuesday evening. Authorities used a helicopter equipped with an infrared camera overnight to help look for her.
Two teams of bloodhounds also were taking part in the search, and authorities have deployed drones in the area to help look for Semaj. Police have gone door-to-door, and asked residents in the area to check their own properties. The FBI offered to help on the case, and Will County accepted, Ackerman said.
“In the FBI our local priority is to combat violent crime. But also our local priority, and everything stops and all resources go to missing children. We need to find Semaj quick,” FBI spokesperson Garrett Croon tells WBBM’s Steve Miller.
Semaj was last seen wearing a grey long-sleeve shirt with a cat face on it, dark blue jeans, and no shoes. Her hair has pigtails with white beads.
Police said there is no sign of an abduction or foul play, and investigators believe Semaj is still in the area. They are hoping she fell asleep after wandering off, and someone will find her soon.
Investigators have been questioning the family, which they said is standard procedure, and police said the family has been cooperating.
If anyone has seen Semaj, they should call the Will County Sheriff at 815-727-8575 or 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).