Missing Zion baby search focuses on landfill

August 23, 2013 (ZION, Ill.)

  • UPDATE: Mom's boyfriend charged in missing Zion baby's murder

    On Friday, Chopper7 HD could see the backhoes and excavators alongside up to 50 investigators, accompanied by cadaver dogs, all fanning out to locate the infant. Joshua went missing Wednesday morning and on Thursday, Zion's police chief said he feared harm had come to the little one, or worse.

    "The size of a five-month-old is very small, not self-sufficient in any way out there in the elements, therefore we don't believe there's a lot of hope, but we still have some," said Chief Wayne Brooks, Zion police department.

    As the police still hold the boyfriend of the baby's mother for questioning and garbage piles up around the Galilee Street neighborhood from which Joshua disappeared, Zion residents who think police have narrowed their search too much gathered in a wooded alley and later at a park district facility to look themselves.

    "There's a long stretch of woods, and I have not seen anyone over there. I've been riding by every day, and I have not seen anyone over there. So I was just trying to get together enough people to see if we can walk through and just go look ourselves, because I don't think the Zion police are doing their job good, I'm sorry," said Diequawa Lakes, Zion resident.

    They were assisted by Robert Larson, a K9 tracking business owner who helped find the body of a missing Maywood baby earlier this year. Zion police, he says, have told him his services are not required.

    "I'm going to be out there until we find him. They don't want to let me back there right now, due to a liability," said Robert Larson, searcher.

    "They are an obvious place to dispose or hide anything of evidentiary value," Zion Police Chief Wayne Brooks said of the garbage cans. Since there is a risk of losing evidence forever, the chief also has asked waste hauler Advance Disposal to put off picking up the garbage for an additional day.

    The child's mother reported the baby, Joshua Summeries, was abducted from the family's Zion apartment Wednesday morning. "I can just tell you she reported the abduction. She doesn't know who took the baby," Brooks said.

    The boyfriend of the child's mother was being questioned and was a person of interest, Brooks said. Several other people also were being interviewed as persons of interest, he said. Police found the boyfriend after canvassing the neighborhood and showing his picture to neighbors, Brooks said.

    "He put up no resistance, but it took most of the day to find him," Brooks said.

    Brooks said law enforcement officers are committed to finding Joshua, and will use all available resources. The reported abduction sparked a massive search by about 125 law enforcement officers, emergency workers and bloodhounds.

    They were "all over the city working in grid fashion in the neighborhood where this child went missing and trying to get some leads," Zion Mayor Lane Harrison said.

    "They pulled together what they consider to be some of the best to try and ferret this whole thing out and decide what is really happening," Harrison said.

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

    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, but at 8 a.m. realized he was missing from his crib. Neighbors say they heard arguing on Wednesday morning.

    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.

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

    On Thursday morning, a biohazard sticker was on the door of the mother's apartment, and the scene had been sealed off, suggesting that the baby could have been harmed. Brooks explained a biohazard 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."

    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.

    "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."

    The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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