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Police Go Door-To-Door As Lagoon Drained In Probe Of Child's Dismembered Body

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago police continued to drain the western part of the Garfield Park lagoon on Wednesday, searching for more evidence after a child's severed head, hands, and feet were found in the water over the weekend.

Officers also were going door to door in the neighborhood handing out flyers, to try and gather information that might help them solve the mystery of how the child's body ended up in the water.

"We do believe the body was not there too long," said Chicago Police Detectives Chief John Escalante at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. "Right now, again, working with the medical examiner's office, maybe a week to two weeks, but we don't think it was that much longer."

A sketch artist is working on a rendering of the child and it is expected to be released Thursday morning.

Crews began using pumps to drain the lagoon into a nearby sewer starting late Tuesday morning. Heavy rain Tuesday afternoon slowed things down, but crews had reduced the water level by about two feet by late Wednesday morning.

Since Saturday evening, investigators have been working morning to night to find the remains of a toddler whose body was dismembered, and dumped into the lagoon. A child's foot was found in the lagoon Saturday evening, and a subsequent search of the lagoon uncovered the child's severed head, hands, and other foot, as well as a weight used to sink the body parts.

The child's torso has yet to be found, so officials decided to drain the lagoon in hopes of finding more evidence that can help them identify the child, and determine a cause of death.

"Once we've completed the search of the lagoon, we'll be able to then start putting together those pieces of this puzzle, and hopefully – number one – identify that child, identify the parents, and then of course put together the reasons as to how and why this child was dismembered and left here in the lagoon," Deputy Chief John Escalante said.


Over the last few days, Imogene Lester has looked out her front window in horror as investigators have searched the lagoon.

"It's unbelievable what's happening over there," she said. "The worst part of all of this is that you've had no reports of a missing child. You know, where are the parents? Where's the family of this child?"

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office has said the body parts are from an African American or mixed race child between the ages of 2 and 3 years. The child most likely had short, curly black hair, brown eyes and the earlobes, suggesting the child might be a boy, but it can't be ruled out that the child was a girl.

"I've really tried not to think about how this could have happened to this toddler," Lester said.

DNA samples have been submitted and a dental consultation has taken place, according to a joint statement from the medical examiner and Chicago police. Fingerprints and footprints have been taken by police. Chicago police also have begun working with a Cook County sketch artist to create a composite drawing to determine what the child might have looked like.

"It's good to see that the resources of the city are out here to make that baby whole," Lester said.

Police expect the entire western section of the lagoon to be drained in the next day or so. Once it has been drained, and investigators complete their search for evidence, the temporary dam between the east and west sides of the lagoon will be removed to allow water to flow into the west side. Future rainfall will then refill the lagoon to its normal level.

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