Funeral Arrangements Made for Toddler Found Dead in Joliet Township Home

Funeral arrangements have been made for the 16-month-old girl found dead under "suspicious" circumstances following a frantic search in Joliet Township.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the family of Semaj Crosby made arrangements with Minor-Morris Funeral Home owner and Joliet City Council member Terry Morris.

The visitation will be 9 a.m. Friday followed by a service at 11 a.m. at Prayer Tower Ministries in Joliet. The girl will be buried at Elmhurst Cemetery in Joliet. Morris said the cemetery is donating a gravesite to the family.

Semaj was found dead around 12 a.m. Thursday inside a house in the 300 block of Louis Road, less than two days after she was reported missing from her southwest suburban home. [[420628593, C]]

Investigators noted that the home at the center of the massive search effort 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, Sheri Gordon, told them many of those residents were considered "squatters."

"They come and go as they please, they may be there for a week, they might be there for a night," Deputy Chief Rick Ackerson with the Will County Sheriff's Office said during a news conference Thursday. [[420628103, C]]

Just before Semaj went missing, investigators with the Department of Child and Family Services say they saw the little girl safe at the home. A spokesperson said the agency had visited the home that day and were investigating Gordon for an allegation of neglect.

DCFS investigators checked on the home at about 3:20 p.m., officials said, and all three of Gordon’s children were there – including Semaj. About three hours later, at about 6:30 p.m., the family reported her missing.

The sheriff’s office said it was Gordon's attorney that helped authorities get consent to search the home on Louis Road around 11 p.m. Wednesday, before investigators found the body of the girl an hour later. [[420628583, C]]

“Ms. Gordon is extremely distraught over the death of her only daughter,” law firm Chuck Bretz and Associates, which is representing Gordon, posted on its Facebook page Thursday evening.

"She will continue to support the investigation in this matter to the best of her abilities," the statement continued. "She prays for her daughter and appreciates the community’s support in this matter. We look forward to when we can put this tragic incident behind us and allow the healing to begin."

An autopsy was completed Thursday, though it determined that the cause of death was "pending further studies."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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