Joliet Township House Where Toddler Was Found Dead Burns To Ground

(CBS) — State arson investigators will examine the Saturday morning fire that razed a vacant Joliet Township home where the body of a toddler was found recently.

Semaj Crosby, 16 months, was discovered dead beneath a couch at 309 Louis Road on April 26, a day after her family said the child had disappeared.

Semaj’s death is under investigation. Child-welfare officials had visited the home two hours before the girl was reported missing.

“This is not a normal house fire. This is a fire at a home where a 16-month-old child was found dead underneath a couch,” state Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Crest Hill, said at the scene.

“I’m not an investigator, but it appears that if there was any other evidence in this home which could have been of use to investigators it’s probably gone now.”

After the toddler was found, authorities said conditions inside the home were “deplorable,” and the occupants were not allowed to remain.

Neighbors say Saturday’s fire appeared to start inside the house. Will County Sheriff’s police announced on Facebook the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office will “attempt to determine the cause and origin of the fire.” Fire officials said at the scene the fire seemed suspicious.

The fire was reported around 6 a.m. Fire crews found the structure fully ablaze, and for safety reasons they allowed it to burn out, CBS 2’s Lauren Victory reports. Officials say there was a fire at the property last week caused by a candle.

A memorial in the yard dedicated to Semaj remained in the yard. The girl’s funeral was Friday.

Anyone with information about Saturday’s fire is asked to call the Will County Sheriff’s Office Investigation Division at 815-727-8574 or leave tips at www.willcosheriff.org

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