Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy released a sketch Thursday of the child whose dismembered remains were found in a Chicago lagoon.
Officials have yet to identify the child, believed to be an African-American toddler between 2 and 3 years old.
Officials said the child had short, curly black hair, brown eyes and the earlobes were not pierced. The lack of ear piercing suggests the child was likely a male, authorities said, but they have not yet determined if the child was a boy or a girl.
Authorities said it remains unclear if the child was murdered.
"I honestly believe what we’re going to find is somebody who panicked and didn’t know what to do with the child who may or may not have been murdered or may have just passed by an accident or whatever the case might be," McCarthy said. "That crisis, when you’ve seen people in that crisis, they’re capable of just about anything. As a parent, I’m troubled."
McCarthy called on the public to help "solve this heinous, senseless event."
"We've got a lot going on but we still don't know what happened," he said. "We're going to need help from the public."
Chief of Detectives John Escalante said the department has received close to 150 calls since Wednesday. He noted that a lot of the callers have referenced the case of a missing toddler in Gary, Indiana.
"We are well aware of that and we have been in contact, our detectives have been talking to the investigators in Gary," he said.
"I don’t have the words strong enough to describe how reprehensible this incident is," Chicago Police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said. "The fact that somebody could do this to a child is frankly unimaginable. There’s somebody out there that knows what happened to this child. Do the right thing, turn yourselves in."
Officials said two feet, two hands and a head, all of which belonged to a young child, were found inside the Garfield Park Lagoon on Chicago's West Side over the weekend. They estimated that the body had been in the water for a week or two.
"In 24 years in this department I can tell you this is one of the most challenging crimes I've been a part of," said Deputy Chief Special Functions Steve Georgas.
More than 100 divers, detectives and officers remained at the scene Wednesday and authorities will continue investigating "24/7" until the case is solved.
Georgas said divers searched for hours after the discovery despite hot and humid conditions, but he noted the lagoon water poses a challenge.
"There's no way to see underneath the water," he said. "Even our most sophisticated sonar equipment becomes useless in this environment."
Officials began canvassing the neighborhood Wednesday, distributing fliers asking that residents report suspicious activity or missing children matching the vague description of the toddler.
"Right now, we believe someone out there has knowledge that can help us," Escalante said.
The Cook County medical examiner's office and Chicago Police Department said an initial examination of the body revealed that "all the body parts appear to be from a child of approximately the same age."
DNA samples were submitted and a "dental consultation" has taken place. Fingerprints and footprints were taken by the Chicago Police Department and an anthropological consultation is pending, officials said.
The cause and manner of death are pending the results of additional tests and an ongoing police investigation. It was not immediately clear when those results would be released.
Officers were first called to the lagoon around 4:40 p.m. Saturday when someone called 911 to report they saw something strange floating in the water, Chicago Police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said. The object in the water turned out to be a toddler's left foot, according to police.
Upon further investigation, officers found the right foot and a hand about 25 yards away. Later Sunday, they recovered the child's head.
A 20-pound weight was also found near the body parts, Guglielmi said. Police are still investigating whether the weight is connected to the discovery of the remains or if it was simply dumped in the same area.
"Cases involving children are exceptionally difficult for all affected — even police," Guglielmi said. "We will comb every square inch of the lagoon for whatever may or may not be in there."
Police have also begun looking through missing children reports in the city and state and have contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Guglielmi said.
Garfield Park is closed until further notice as police investigate. Anyone with information on missing children fitting the description are asked to call (312) 744-8261.
"We're going to take every phone call and follow up on every lead," Escalante said. "We'll follow every lead wherever it takes us."