We are saddened to report the death of 1-year-old Semaj Crosby of Preston Heights, Joliet Township, Illinois. Less than two days into the search for Semaj, police found the toddler’s body inside the home rented by her mother, Sheri Gordon.
After Semaj was reported missing by her mother on Tuesday evening, Will County deputies arrived on the scene to search the house, as well as the surrounding neighborhood, for the missing child. Preston Heights, which is described as a census-designated place, is located on the east side of Joliet and has a population close to 3,000.
As the search continued on Tuesday and into Wednesday, police were joined by volunteers and additional emergency personnel, including firefighters and dive crews from the Joliet and East Joliet Fire Departments. A helicopter also searched from above, along with bloodhounds scouring the neighborhood. Eventually the FBI joined the investigation.
Late Wednesday night, police were given access to search the home of Sheri Gordon. The body of Semaj Crosby was found inside her home on Louis Road about an hour later, around midnight. An autopsy conducted on Thursday showed that it will “require further study” to determine the cause of death.
Officials are still unclear of the cause of death but reports show that the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) visited the home of Sheri Gordon just hours before Semaj was reported missing. The visitation was due to the ongoing investigation of Gordon for neglect. According to an email from a DCFS spokeswoman, “There were no obvious hazards or safety concerns at that time.”
While there was no cause for concern according to DCFS, Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Rick Ackerson has reported the house to be “deplorable,” with as many as fifteen squatters living on and off at the home rented by Gordon.
“This has been a very emotional situation for family members, friends, and first responders. The entire community has been deeply concerned for the safety of Semaj.” Ackerson said in a press conference on Thursday.
As the investigation surrounding the death of Semaj Crosby continues, family, friends, and community members are mourning the tragic loss of young Semaj. A memorial with candles, photos, and stuffed animals dedicated to her was created, while members of the community joined together in prayer outside her home Thursday evening.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Semaj Crosby and those who are affected by her untimely loss.