Zion police chief fears missing baby has been 'harmed or worse,' asks residents to search property

August 22, 2013 (ZION, Ill.)

Zion police spent a lot of time at the mother's apartment on Galilee Avenue Thursday, where they say Joshua was taken out of a window early Wednesday. His mother says she last saw him around 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, but at 8 a.m. realized he was missing from his crib. Dozens of cops continued their search, checking dumpsters, garbage cans and abandoned buildings. Police continue to question the mother's boyfriend. Neighbors say they heard arguing on Wednesday morning.

Police in Zion are asking homeowners to make detailed searches of their property, checking garbage cans in particular. Garbage collection has been delayed to ensure possible evidence isn't destroyed. One neighbor says he fears for his children now, and was worried when Joshua's mother moved into the complex a month ago.

"They be fighting, and all cussing, and slamming doors and all that, so it's been issues. The last time I heard them fight was like a week ago," said Jerry Cooper, neighbor.

A north suburban police chief was holding out hope that a missing 5-month-old baby could be found alive, but expressed doubts on Thursday.

"Our concern and belief is that Joshua has been harmed or worse," Zion Police Chief Wayne Brooks said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

He pledged that police are still committed to finding Joshua Summeries and will use all available resources. About 200 law enforcement personnel responded to Zion's call for mutual aid to search the area after the infant was reported abducted Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, a biohazard sticker was on the door of the mother's apartment door, and the scene had been sealed off, suggesting that the baby could have been harmed. Brooks explained a bio-hazard sticker placed by police on the front door of the apartment where the abduction occurred by saying: "There could be any fluids, but we're not talking about a horrendous scene, but just enough to think things aren't right here."

Police were actively searching for the baby Thursday morning. Besides police, Zion residents have joined in the search for the missing baby boy. One man was looking through an alley with his three collies on Thursday morning.

"This was the area where the crime scene was, or where it all came down, where the baby's missing, this area. And then I'm gonna go back where I live, I live on the other side of town, so that's two areas," said Robert Pye, unofficial volunteer.

"He's just a baby. Some people, I just don't understand what they think about, why do they think that way. Who am I to question, but you do not harm a child. Your thoughts shouldn't even be to harm a child. If you don't want it, give it to somebody. Give it to somebody who's going to love it, don't just harm it like that," said Clementine White, baby's neighbor.

Joshua Summeries' mother told police the baby was crying early Wednesday morning and the boyfriend told her he would take care of the child. He left with the baby and came back about 10 minutes later saying he went for a smoke, the mother told police. The baby was not with him.

There was an argument between the baby's mother and boyfriend; neighbors reported hearing the shouting. The mother went to the home of the baby's father, which is nearby, but before they could talk she took off. When she got back to the home, her boyfriend was gone. Police later brought him in for questioning.

Police said officers are conducting interviews and "painstakingly" searching the area. They also noted that they believe this to be "an isolated incident."

"I think that it's really sad and whoever has the child should bring him back so he can be safe," said area resident Mennie Smith.

"It's heartbreaking," said area resident Brittany Cabell. "You think your baby is in the crib and the baby is not there. It's devastating, very much so."

For a time, Galilee Avenue was closed off while the painstaking search for the infant continued. The street has since been reopened.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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