Garfield Park Residents Seek Justice for Child Found in Lagoon

Rachel Crosby and Lolly Bowean, Chicago Tribune, September 11, 2015

Two women walked over to Garfield Park just moments after Chicago police released a sketch Thursday morning of a dismembered child found in the lagoon.

Together, they stared at the chubby face of a toddler.

“Can I have copies?” one of them asked.

An officer gave her and the other woman a stack of about 20.

“Can I have more?” the woman said. Others were now walking up and asking for copies too.

Five days after the first remains were discovered in the lagoon, the community around Garfield Park has come together to seek justice for the young child. They have held vigils, they have gone door to door, they have made public appeals to anyone who might know about a missing child.

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The first remains were discovered Saturday afternoon when a frantic woman called 911 to report a foot floating in the lagoon. It turned out to be the left foot of the child, according to authorities.

Police later found the child’s other foot and both hands toward the north end of the lagoon about 25 yards away. A 20-pound weight was found nearby, authorities said. Late the next day, the child’s head was discovered near where other body parts were found.

Officials said the body is likely that of an African-American boy, but have cautioned that they cannot rule out that the body is of a “mixed-race heritage” and possibly a girl. The age could range from 8 months to 4 years old, but is most likely 2 or 3.

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More than 100 officers, detectives and divers have been searching for other remains of the child as city water crews have begun draining the west side of the lagoon.

The park where people once fished and played basketball has become a crime scene. After the buzz of Thursday’s news conference, the only activity was from cadaver dogs still canvasing the area and police officers turning away passersby, occasionally stepping out of their patrol cars to stretch.

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Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy cautioned that police have not ruled out that the child may have died by accident. “This could be a tragic case of somebody panicking and not knowing what to do,” he said, still calling it “heinous.”

As the investigation continues, detectives are withholding some details because “only the person who did it is going to know certain things,” McCarthy said at the news conference.

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