Two cases stand out in search for identity of child found in Garfield Park lagoon

SHARE Two cases stand out in search for identity of child found in Garfield Park lagoon
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Chicago Police continue to pursue all leads as they try to determine the identity of the child whose partial remains were found in the Garfield Park lagoon. | AP file photo

Some nationally prominent missing child cases have risen to the forefront in the Chicago police investigation of a toddler’s dismembered remains found Sept. 5th in the Garfield Park lagoon.

Besides sifting through missing children reports in Chicago and statewide, police have worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to identify any potential matches in their national database.

Two immediately stood out, as the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office and police narrowed the child’s demographics — probably a boy; African-American or biracial; between 18 months and 4 years old, but most likely 2 or 3; brown-eyed, with short black hair.

Garfield Park to reopen Monday after search for toddler’s remains ends

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This composite sketch by a forensic artist with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department shows a toddler whose dismembered remains were found in a lagoon in Garfield Park. | Chicago Police Department sketch, distributed by the Associated Press

The first case — which also proved the most prominent among the more than 150 tips that have rolled in from the public — was the case of 2-year-old King Walker of Gary, Ind., who disappeared with his 21-year-old, mentally disabled aunt, Diamond Bynum, from his home on July 25.

Bynum’s stepmother told police the young woman and toddler had laid down with her for a nap, and when she awoke about 11 a.m., Bynum and King were gone from the home in the 500 block of Matthews Street in Gary.

While Chicago Police have said no case is being ruled out, they say the Gary case doesn’t appear to be a match.

“At this point, we don’t believe it to be related,” Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said at a press conference last week where the department released a forensic artist’s sketch of what the child might have looked like and asked the public’s help.

“It doesn’t look like the circumstances that we know occurred in Gary would match up to the condition of the body parts that we’ve recovered here,” said McCarthy.

Chicago police have also investigated a second case involving a two-year-old Searcy, Ark. boy, Malik Drummond, who has been missing for 10 months. That toddler reportedly walked away from his father’s home in Searcy on Nov. 23, 2014, and Arkansas law enforcement have been investigating the child’s disappearance as a criminal case.

“All I can tell you is area detectives are aware of that case and are pursuing all leads,” Police News Affairs spokesman Veejay Zala said on Saturday, as city water crews nearly finished draining the west side of the lagoon in the search for whatever other evidence may be found.

“Detectives are working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as the FBI and other state and local law enforcement authorities,” said Zala.

The child’s remains — its hands, feet and head — were found over the Labor Day weekend. Since then, police divers have been searching for additional body parts.

The Sun-Times recently reported police have expanded their search area to include Douglas Park, Humboldt Park, Columbus Park, and an area near the Bishop Ford and the access point of the Cal-Sag Channel. It was not yet clear what led police to those other areas.

News Affairs’ Zala said he could confirm the Columbus and Humboldt park searches. “I was told that Columbus Park and Humboldt Park are more of a precautionary measure. The other locations, I suppose that’s possible,” he said. “Again, we’re going to look to see if there’s any evidence of foul play at those locations to help us get to the bottom of this case.”

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States, roughly 2,000 per day. Of those, only 115 are “stranger abduction” cases, where the child is taken by an unknown person.

Police hope someone will recognize the child from the sketch and call with a promising lead. Anyone with information is asked to call Chicago Police at 312-744-8261; Crime Stoppers of Chicago at 800-535-STOP; or text tips to 274637.

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Cook County Sheriff’s Detective Tim McPhillips is the forensic artist who drew the sketch of the unidentified child from the remains found in the Garfield Park Lagoon. | Maudlyne Ihejirika/Sun-Times

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