As state child welfare authorities investigated the mother of a baby girl who vanished Tuesday evening from her far southwest suburban home, police renewed a call for help from the public in finding little Semaj Crosby.
“We do need the community’s help on this,” Will County sheriff’s office Deputy Chief Richard Ackerman said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.”We want to bring Semaj home tonight.”
The FBI has joined in the search and they are asking anyone with information to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
The 1-year-old girl was last seen about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, playing with between six and eight other children outside her home near Luana Road and Richards Street in unincorporated Joliet Township, Ackerman said.
Department of Children and Family Services officials had been at the home at 3:20 p.m., investigating a previous allegation of neglect against the girl’s mother, according to a statement from the agency. They saw all three of the mother’s children — including Semaj — and saw no obvious hazards or safety concerns, officials said.
The girl was wearing dark blue jeans and a gray or pink long-sleeve shirt with a picture of a cat on the front. She was barefoot and wearing her hair in multiple ponytails with white beads, Ackerman said.
More than 100 law enforcement personnel have joined the search. Ackerman said investigators were still working on the premise that the girl had wandered off, as they had no indication anyone took her.
“There’s nothing pointing us in that direction,” he said.
Detectives have interviewed the girl’s family twice, and they have been “fully cooperative,” Ackerman said, noting that police previously had been called to their home a few times, most recently for a “domestic situation” on Easter Sunday. No arrests were made.
DCFS has been working with the family since September 2016, with four unfounded investigations for neglect, and two other pending investigations for neglect opened in March 2017, agency officials said.
Authorities have searched the family’s home and scoured the area of the Preston Heights subdivision with bloodhounds and a helicopter. More than a hundred volunteers joined the search Wednesday, and a dive team searched a pond in the Sugar Creek subdivision, all to no avail.
The search was suspended late Wednesday night.
“There’s really no track of her,” Ackerman said.
Tips can also be called in to the sheriff’s office at (815) 727-8575.