JOLIET TOWNSHIP, Ill. - The death of 17-month-old Semaj Crosby, the girl found dead under a couch in her southwest suburban Joliet Township home, has been ruled a homicide, the Will County coroner said Friday.
The Office of the Will County Coroner said Crosby died of asphyxiation.
The Will County State's Attorney released a statement Friday:
"The investigation into the death of Semaj Crosby is the highest priority for both the Will County State's Attorney's Office and the Will County Sheriff's Department. All available resources are being deployed in this investigation. The tragic death of this little girl has had a profound impact on all of the prosecutors and investigators involved in this case," the Will County State's Attorney said.
In April, hours before her disappearance, investigators associated with the Department of Children and Family Services had been in the home following up on an investigation into alleged child neglect. Will County Judge Paula Gomora questioned why the agency failed to remove the children from the home after seeing the conditions.
During a hearing, Gomora said DCFS caseworkers missed obvious signs of trouble in previous visits to the home.
Pictures of inside the home show the living conditions that the Will County Land Use Department described as "uninhabitable." Authorities said the house was infested with bedbugs and roaches. Garbage was everywhere and the home had no smoke alarms, but the family continued to receive services from the state.
A DCFS official said in a Senate hearing he believes the agency followed proper procedures by leaving Semaj and her siblings in the home with their mother.
But according to Will County, the home structure was considered unfit for human occupancy, with unsanitary conditions both inside and outside the home.
Judge Gomora placed Semaj's siblings in the custody of other family members or with the DCFS.
The case is still under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Will County Sheriff's Police at 815-727-8574.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.