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Arrest in case of toddler found dismembered in Chicago lagoon

CHICAGO -- Chicago police say they’ve arrested a man in the death of a 2-year-old northern Illinois boy whose dismembered remains were found in a park lagoon last year.

Police say Kamel Harris, 41, who is expected to be charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kyrian Knox, was once a caretaker for the boy. Harris was being held in a jail in Winnebago County on an unrelated charge before detectives arrested him and took him into their custody.

The Rockford boy’s remains were found in September 2015 in the Garfield Park lagoon on Chicago’s West Side. The toddler’s foot was found on Sept. 5, 2015, and divers uncovered more remains in the next several days. Speaking at a press conference Tuesday night, Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said a break for investigators came when blood found in a vehicle driven by Harris was matched to the child.

Harris had initially denied that the boy, who had been left with him by the child’s mother, was ever in the car, Duffin said. Several witnesses also came forward who knew information “only the killer could know” and testified before a Cook County grand jury, Duffin said.

Duffin said investigators believe Harris “snapped” because the boy, who was lactose intolerant, began crying because he drank some milk. The alleged motive is based off of third-party witness statements, Duffin said.

Duffin said investigators believe the boy was killed in Rockford before Harris falsely reported the boy missing to police. Police have previously said Harris was not cooperating with investigators.

The child’s death was ruled a homicide, but a medical examiner was not able to determine the boy’s  cause of death.

“Some incidents create a lasting memory, and last year on Labor Day weekend, two-year-old Kyrian Knox became one of those memories,” Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “Back then, we said we could not give up until we brought his killer to justice – today, I’m proud to say we have kept the promise.”

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