Father of Murdered Zion Infant: 'We Will Always Love Our Son'

Police say a Zion man suffocated the infant and dumped his body in the trash

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The search for a missing baby in Zion takes a tragic turn. On Saturday prosecutors charged Demetries Thorpe with first degree murder in the death of five month old Joshua Summeries. Police say Thorpe suffocated the baby, stuffed his tiny body into a backpack and tossed it in the trash. Saturday night loved ones held a candlelight vigil for baby Joshua. The little boy’s father and mother were there. NBC5’S Michelle Relerford has the story. (Published Saturday, Aug 24, 2013)

    A Zion man was charged Saturday and held on $5 million bond in the disappearance of his girlfriend's 5-month-old baby boy.

    Demetries Thorpe, 26, was charged with first-degree murder after police say he suffocated 5-month-old Joshua Summeries and dumped his body in the trash.

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    Joshua went missing on Wednesday, prompting authorities from several law enforcement agencies to converge on a Zion neighborhood to search for the boy, who they said vanished under "suspicious circumstances."

    According to Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim, Joshua was crying when Thorpe went into his room to "settle him." Ten minutes later, Joshua's mother reported he had been kidnapped.

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    Nerheim alleged Thorpe, who is the reported boyfriend of Joshua's mother, put his hand over the child's mouth until he stopped breathing, approximately 10 to 15 seconds. He then put the baby into a backpack and dumped it in the trash, he said.

    The Zion Police Department searched a landfill Friday at 701 Greenbay Road. According to a message posted on the police department's Facebook page, more than 50 law enforcement officers and two trained dogs were combing the landfill.

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    Joshua's parents, Kesha and Clarence Summeries, attended a vigil Saturday night, alongside nearly 200 other supporters, to honor their baby boy.

    “We’re going to get through this together," Clarence Summeries said. "We will always love our son- no matter what.”

    Police said Saturday they were still searching for the backpack in the massive landfill.

    "To say a needle in a haystack, it's even worse than that," said Zion Police Chief Wayne Brooks. "But we are going to call all the stops and do everything humanly possible to keep that search going."

    Police said video surveillance shows Thorpe placed the backpack in the dumpster and stood nearby to watch the garbage truck empty it.

    Officers were able to find the driver of the dump truck and shut down operations of the landfill facility hours later.

    Thorpe was originally questioned in the case and considered a "person of interest."

    "We have who we believe is responsible in custody," said Nerheim. "We have not recovered the body. I understand the public is upset and concerned and we are as well. You are talking about 200 veteran law enforcement officers who probably haven't slept in three days because of not only the emotional involvement in this case but also the physical involvement."

    Officials stress that the case appears to be an isolated incident and that there's no danger to the public.

    "It's a case you train for but hope never happens," said George Filenko, commander of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force. "Our mission now is to bring Joshua home."

    No charges will be filed against Joshua's mother, police said.

    "She's a mother who has lost a 5-month-old infant," said Filenko. "That speaks for itself."

    The Department of Family and Children Services, however, is still investigating the mother and boyfriend and said she has been found of neglect on at least three previous reports.

    Thorpe is expected to appear in court again Sept. 12 in Waukegan.