'Somebody Knows What Happened': Detective Opens Up About Semaj Crosby Investigation - NBC Chicago

'Somebody Knows What Happened': Detective Opens Up About Semaj Crosby Investigation

"I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that she did not get under that couch by herself"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Fire Destroys Home Where Semaj Crosby Was Found Dead

    One day after 1-year-old Semaj Crosby was laid to rest, a fire destroyed the home where the young girl was found dead, burning it to the ground. NBC 5's Ash-har Quraishi reports.

    (Published Sunday, May 7, 2017)

    It has been more than two months since 1-year-old Semaj Crosby was found dead inside her home after a massive search in a Chicago suburb and yet few answers have been released on what happened to the young girl. 

    According to the Will County Sheriff's office, multiple women who may have knowledge on the circumstances surrounding Semaj's death are not cooperating with investigators and have all hired attorneys. 

    The toddler was the subject of a massive 30-hour search before her body was found under a couch in her family's Joliet home last month. 

    In a question and answer session with the Justice for Semaj Action Team, Detective R.J. Austin, who has been the lead detective on the case, passionately discussed the heartbreaking investigation, saying he wanted to dispel any rumors. 

    "This isn't like some kind of who did it, who done it. There were four women at that house the day that Semaj went missing, four grown women," Austin said. "One, if not more, of those four grown women know exactly what happened to Semaj and know how she got under that couch. I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that she did not get under that couch by herself."

    At the time of her disappearance, the girl's mother told authorities her daughter had been playing outside with other children before she wandered away.

    Less than three hours earlier, at about 3:20 p.m., investigators with the Department of Child and Family Services said they visited the home and saw the girl alive while investigating the mother for an allegation of neglect. At about 6:30 p.m., the family reported her missing.

    Photos released by investigators following the girl's tragic death showed the home she lived in was in "very deplorable conditions." Anywhere from five to 15 people typically lived there at a given time, officials said, adding that the attorney for the girl’s mother told them many of those residents were considered "squatters."

    In the months following Semaj's death, the medical examiner's office has only said her cause of death was "pending further studies." Austin noted in his Q&A that at the time of her autopsy, Semaj had no visible wounds or blood on her body.

    Missing Toddler Found Dead in Joliet TownshipMissing Toddler Found Dead in Joliet Township

    After 30 hours of searching, the body of 1-year-old Semaj Crosby was discovered in the same neighborhood that she first went missing. NBC 5's Lauren Petty reports from Joliet Township.

    (Published Saturday, May 6, 2017)

    Days after her daughter's death, her mother Sheri Gordon thanked the community in an emotional statement saying, "I appreciate you guys for your love and support."

    A day after Semaj was buried, a fire destroyed the home where she was found dead, burning it to the ground.  

    Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services released a 22-page report detailing its investigation into the death of the child, but did not say why or how the little girl died.

    Read the full DCFS report

    The report contains information regarding the various people who inhabited the home, including Semaj's biological parents. It also notes mental health concerns among adults and children living in the home. It states Semaj's cause of death as "unknown" pending the results full autopsy.

    The director for DCFS, George Sheldon, resigned roughly one month after her death. 

    "Somebody knows what happened," Austin said. "I want justice for Semaj. I want justice. I want closure. I want one of them four grown women to come up to me, whether it was an accident or whether it was a crime maybe that they tried to hush."

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