Police continue investigation after child's body parts found in Garfield Park lagoon

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Garfield Park is empty this Labor Day. Instead of teeming with families, it has become a crime scene as police continue their death investigation into the remains of a child found in the lagoon.

The coroner's office revealed late Monday afternoon that the child was African American, between the ages of 2 and three. The cause of death has yet to be determined as the investigation continues.

Officials say a child's decomposed head, foot and hands were found in the waters.

The search began Saturday when a person called 911 after discovering a suspicious object in the lagoon. Officers arrived and found a toddler's left foot floating in the water.

The disturbing discovery launched a massive investigation as dozens of officers sectioned off the open space with tape, creating a command center by the water.

On Monday, a dozen officers could be seen wading through the muddy waters. Sources said the search may include the possibility of draining the lagoon. However, officials have not yet confirmed whether they will drain the lagoon to find other body parts.

Richard Kling, a clinical professor at Kent College of Law, says because the child's body parts were found in the small pond and not Lake Michigan or another large body of water, the decomposing process may have been slowed down.

"Lagoon is more stagnant so question of how much oxygen and bacteria affect the body," Kling said.

The gruesome, tragic developments have left residents on edge, but a neighborhood alderman says the park is safe.

"Garfield Park is the jewel of the West Side, and that someone would bring this type of nonsense to this community is reprehensible. . . This is not a reflection of the West Side of Chicago. . . Or the values of the Garfield Park community or the people who live in this city," said Alderman Jason Ervin.

He added that the victim could be between the ages of 2 and 4.

"We are not talking of a newborn, and we are not talking about a first grader. This is someone who should have been noticed is not around," Ervin said.

Kling says investigators will be able to find out soon how long the child's body has been underwater.

"They could probably tell within five-to-seven days," he said.

Some residents expressed outrage at the findings.

"Since I've been here, they've pulled two bodies out of the water, in the 19 years I've lived here. . . Now to know that it's a kid, that's what is sickening and sad," said Connie Mitchell, resident.

"That was just horrific, even for this area. It's just horrifying," said Imogene Lester, resident.

Police said they have located other items of interest but will not give details on what was found. They are also searching missing person reports in the area in hopes of identifying the child.
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