Police: Toddler found in lagoon killed because he kept crying

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A police officer searches along the shoreline of the lagoon in Garfield Park for evidence after body parts from a toddler were recently discovered in the water on Sept. 9, 2015. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

It was a mystery both horrifying and puzzling.

Police were called to Garfield Park over the Labor Day weekend last year because someone had found a tiny decomposing human foot floating in the West Side lagoon.

Divers soon found another foot, two arms and, ultimately, a toddler’s head in the murky waters.

“It was pretty difficult to deal with,” said Sgt. Angel Romero, of the police department’s dive team. “Probably one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with in my 29 years on the job.”

Police now believe they have unraveled the mystery, and it is no less horrifying or puzzling to comprehend.

They suspect a 41-year-old Rockford man killed 2-year-old Kyrian Knox because the lactose-intolerant boy was given some milk and wouldn’t stop crying.

Kamel Harris “kind of just snapped,” Chicago Police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said at a news conference Tuesday evening on the banks of the lagoon where Kyrian’s decapitated body had been dumped.

“The baby apparently ingested some milk, and the baby was lactose intolerant and kept crying all afternoon,” Duffin said.

No bail for man accused of killing, dismembering toddler

More than 14 months after the boy’s remains were found, Chicago Police announced Tuesday that Harris had been charged with first-degree murder.

Harris also is charged with concealment of a homicidal death and dismembering a human body. He is scheduled to appear in Cook County bond court Wednesday.

Kamel Harris | Chicago Police photo

Kamel Harris | Chicago Police photo

Investigators took custody of Harris’ vehicle, obtained a search warrant and found Kyrian’s blood inside, Duffin said. Police believe the child was killed in Rockford.

Harris was in custody in Winnebago County on another charge when police arrested him in Kyrian’s murder Monday night, Duffin said.

The Winnebago County sheriff’s office did not immediately provide details on Harris’ prior arrest.

WIFR-TV in Rockford reported that Harris pleaded not guilty to aggravated battery to a government employee last July after he allegedly pushed a Department of Children and Family Services worker.

“The vast amount of evidence here in Chicago and the fact that Chicago Police have done most of the investigation, it was determined he would be charged here in Cook County,” Duffin said.

Harris was watching Kyrian in September of 2015 when the toddler was killed, Duffin said. Harris eventually reported the child missing to the Rockford Police Department, though he allegedly came to Garfield Park to dispose of the child’s remains because he was familiar with the area.

Kyrian Knox | Rockford police photo

Kyrian Knox | Rockford police photo

Kyrian’s exact cause of death remains undetermined, Duffin said. Last year, the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled his death a “homicide by unspecified means.”

“The baby had been entrusted to him by the baby’s mother and he made a false report to the Rockford Police that the baby had gone missing,” Duffin said.

Kyrian’s mother, Lanisha Knox, previously told investigators she left her son with Harris while she moved from Rockford to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In November 2015, investigators said they had hit a wall in the investigation when the last known people to have seen the boy alive were not cooperating with police.

Based on the missing person report, Chicago Police went to Rockford to collect DNA from Kyrian’s mother, which matched the remains found in the lagoon.

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