Police appeal to public in identifying child body parts in Chicago park
As police divers combed through a debris-filled Chicago lagoon where the body parts of a toddler were found, authorities Wednesday distributed fliers in hopes that someone will step forward with information on the child’s identity.
“We believe someone out there has information that is going to help us,” the police department’s chief of detectives, John Escalante, told reporters.
“Someone in the community may be aware of something unusual or suspicious. That phone call that they make to us may put us in the right direction in identifying who this poor child is.”
The body parts found in Garfield Park near Chicago’s New West Side over the weekend most likely belong to a black toddler between 2 and 4 years of age, Escalante said.
The body parts may have been in the lagoon “a week to two weeks,” Escalante said. “We don’t think much longer.”
Investigators have DNA, dental evidence, fingerprints and footprints that need to be examined, and are working with a sketch artist to put together a composite of what the child may have looked like.
Workers with the city water management department were using four water pumps to siphon 350 gallons a minute each from the lagoon to assist investigators in the search for other body parts or clues, officials said.
In addition, police divers were conducting grid searches through rocks, bottles and other debris in the lagoon’s stagnant water, police said.
“There’s no way to see underneath the water,” Deputy Chief Steve Georgas said.
“In 24 years in this department, it’s one of the most challenging crimes I’ve been part of and many of the men and women behind me as well,” he said. “There are no words that can describe what’s going on out there. … We’re all fathers, brothers, sisters. We all have children, nieces and nephews. So, just mentally, that takes a toll on our personnel.”
After a human foot was discovered Saturday in the Garfield Park lagoon, searchers recovered the head, two hands, and another foot of a child, the police department and the city’s medical examiner’s office have said.
Investigators said a citizen made the first discovery in the park.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said searchers also found a plastic bag that was brought to a lab to be opened in a sterile environment. Guglielmi said he believes the remains were somehow separated from the bag.
The draining of the the lagoon could take two to five days, CNN affiliate WLS reported.
Parts of the park, which is centrally located near Chicago’s New West Side, were still closed Wednesday.
“Do the right thing,” Guglielmi implored anyone with information on the case. “This child has suffered enough.”
CNN’s Ray Sanchez, Greg Botelho and Seth Kovar contributed to this report.
By Steve Almasy, Joe Sutton and Rosa Flores