DNA Testing to Provide ID on Baby's Body Found in River

Identification not confirmed but river has been area of focus in search for 1-year-old Bryeon Hunter

DNA testing will be done to identify the body of a baby found in the Des Plaines River earlier this week, officials said Thursday.

Authorities expressed confidence a day earlier that the body is that of Bryeon Hunter, a 1-year-old Maywood boy who last month was the subject of an Amber Alert. Positive identification, however, can only be made by the Cook County Medical Examiner.

That office performed an autopsy on Wednesday but a cause of death was still unknown as of Thursday afternoon. Staff provided tissue samples to the Maywood Police Department to conduct the DNA testing.

The Des Plaines River had been an area of focus ever since Hunter vanished on April 16.

Authorities almost immediately believed the boy had been beaten to death. Days after his disappearance, Hunter's mother, Lakeshia Baker, and her boyfriend, Michael Scott, were charged with first-degree murder.

Though a positive ID still needs to be made, Hunter's grandmother, Brenda Lloyd, viewed the recover as a chance to say goodbye.

"My baby can rest. He can rest now," Lloyd said through tears. "I love him and I miss him, wont have a chance to be with him, hold him."

The case against Baker and Scott was continued Wednesday to May 23. Baker's mother defended her daughter, saying she didn't do it.

"I'm praying that they let my daughter go cause my daughter didn't do it,"  Lloyd said. "He did it. The boyfriend did it. His family knows he did it. My daughter wouldn't kill her baby."

Authorities on Tuesday focused on a portion of the river near 1st Avenue and 31st Street, in North Riverside, after receiving a tip from a kayaker about an object in the water.

"I didn't see it right away but I looked down -- I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be an infant body," said Robert Larson, who trains dogs for search and rescue and has been actively searching the river ever since Hunter vanished. 

"I looked down in the water and I thought to myself, "This can't possibly be the final resting place for this boy. It just can't possibly -- I can't let that happen," he said.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Larson has been "very dedicated" with helping in the search for the boy.

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