CHICAGO (CBS) — The search for a missing toddler in Will County came to a tragic end overnight, when her body was found inside a Joliet Township home.
Police found the body of 16-month-old Semaj Crosby around midnight inside a home in the 300 block of Louis Road — Semaj’s family home. The Will County Sheriff’s office said they, along with the FBI, gained consent to enter the home around 11 p.m., with the help of an attorney hired by Semaj’s family.
Semaj was pronounced dead, and an autopsy was scheduled for later Thursday to determine how she died.
Sources said police found Semaj’s body under a couch. Later Thursday morning, investigators removed a couch from the home, and placed it on a truck.
The toddler was reported missing around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, about three hours after staff from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had been at the home, and saw Semaj and her two siblings safe.
Semaj’s 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 yard, but wandered off.
Police and volunteers launched an extensive search for Semaj. More than 80 police officers and dozens of volunteers spent the better part of a day-and-a-half looking for the toddler. Authorities brought in bloodhounds, a helicopter, and a dive team to search a nearby pond, but suspended the search late Wednesday due to the rain.
Neighbors said they’re saddened and disappointed.
“I honestly feel the whole thing was a big waste of time. You have choppers, the people from the community, police going door-to-door. They searched my house better than they searched the house that she was missing from. We’re looking all around here to come and find out she was in that house the whole time?” neighbor Zachary Stocking said.
David Stocking said he feels like he might have been one of the last people to see Semaj alive.
“It just hurts me, because it shouldn’t have happened at all,” he said.
“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.
Police said they would hold a press conference on the case Thursday morning.