Watch CBS News

Police Draining Garfield Park Lagoon After Child's Body Parts Discovered

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Police began draining the lagoon at Garfield Park as investigators continue their probe of the death of a child whose body parts were found there over the weekend.

Saturday evening, a child's foot was found in the lagoon in the 200 block of North McCrea Drive, prompting a search of the park. Investigators later found a severed head and other body parts, as well as a weight used to sink the evidence. 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 the medical examiner says, but it can't be ruled out that the child was a girl.

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 said the city's Water Department started draining the lagoon Tuesday morning.

"The Department of Water Management is assisting police in their investigation by draining the west side of the Garfield Park Lagoon," the Police Office of News Affairs said in an email.

Water is being pumped into sewers on Hamlin Boulevard, which are closed to traffic between Lake Street and Washington Boulevard, police said.

"Once the draining work and investigation is complete, the temporary dam will be removed to allow the water to flow to the west side of the lagoon," police said. Future rain water will refill the lagoon to its regular level."

It should take between two to three days to drain the lagoon, police said.


People living in the area hope police find what they're looking for, but they're also concerned about what else the water might be hiding.

"I just only hope that we don't find any more dead bodies and things of that nature," said Carl Person. "And what can I tell you, everybody should start praying."

Tuesday evening, a prayer vigil took place a few hundred feet away from the lagoon.

"This is a great tragedy, said the Rev. Paul Jakes, one of several preachers who stood in a circle with a victim counselor at the corner of Hamlin Avenue and Maypole Street with 40 neighborhood residents, advising parents one minute to keep a close eye on their children until the killer is found and the next, leading a prayer that expressed their horror.

"We are distressed and troubled that someone within our community would harm an innocent child and dismember a person's body," said the Rev. Ira Acree.

Acree and others went on to pray for the child and pray that the killer be taken off the street quickly because "that person is not only evil, but sick."

Community residents have begun tying blue ribbons around trees in the child's memory. Chicago Survivors crisis counselor Dawn Valenti and the ministers told parents to know where their children are at all times. Valenti said if the killer is caught, she will attend all court sessions in the case.

Police have stepped up efforts to determine the child's identity. Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has said he will authorize full resources, and do whatever it takes to find those responsible.

Police have said there are no reports of missing children in the area.

Much of the 184-acre park remained closed Monday. While the main streets running through the park are open, many of the side streets are blocked by police vehicles or police tape.

The investigation briefly drew the attention of detectives in Gary, Indiana, where police have been searching for 2-year-old King Walker since he and his aunt went missing nearly two months ago. However, police said the remains are not King's, so that search goes on.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.