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Garfield Park Lagoon Drained In Investigation of Dead Toddler

By  Stephanie Lulay and DNAinfo Staff | September 8, 2015 11:15am | Updated on September 8, 2015 3:45pm

 Garfield Park Lagoon
Garfield Park Lagoon
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CHICAGO — As city crews begin the somber process of draining half of the Garfield Park lagoon as part of the investigation into the death of a dismembered toddler found in the water, the local alderman is urging people to help identify the child.

"This is not a newborn," Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said. "This is a child that's been around. This is someone that should be missed. Do you know someone who had a kid last week and now they don't have one? Ask questions. Make sure that child is alive.

"I would just hope that people in the community or across the city would know that if a child is not around  — from a relative, a family member or a neighbor — make that call to 911."

Chicago Police said Tuesday morning that city crews will drain half of the manmade lagoon — the west side section where a child's body parts began to be found Saturday. Crews will dam off the east side — at Central Park Avenue — and then pump the west side's water into sewers on Hamlin Boulevard.

During that process, Hamlin will be closed from Lake Street to Washington Boulevard.

"Once the draining work and investigation is complete, the temporary dam will be removed to allow the water to flow to the west side of the lagoon," police said in a statement. "Future rain water will refill the lagoon to its regular level."

The remains were decomposed, and authorities don't know yet if it was a boy or a girl, or how the child died. The Cook County Medical Examiner's office said the child was African-American or mixed race, and between 18 months and four years old. Their "best estimate" is two to three years old.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon from the Medical Examiner's Office and the Chicago Police Department, authorities said "all the body parts appear to be from a child of approximately the same age."

The statement said the victim's hair was short, curly and black, eyes were brown and the earlobes were not pierced "suggesting the child may be male (but female gender cannot be ruled out at present.)"

DNA samples and dental evidence is being examined as well as finger and footprints, authorities said. The body parts were described as "badly decomposed."

The statement asks that anyone who has any information on missing children fitting the description to call detectives at 312-744-8261.

Around 4:40 p.m. on Saturday, a caller told police they saw a small foot near the 200 block of McCrea Drive, a small road inside the park, according to Officer Janel Sedevic, a Chicago Police spokeswoman.

Police closed off the area to conduct a search, and they later found other remains around the lagoon, Sedevic said. Ald. Ervin said the parts included a child's head, right foot and hands.

The sex of the child is not known at this point and it is unclear how long the remains have been located in the lagoon.

Ervin, whose ward includes Garfield Park, said the neighborhood is in "a holding pattern" until experts are able to identify the child's identity through DNA analysis. He urged anyone with information on a missing child to call 911.The alderman said he is not aware of any missing children and none have been reported since the remains were found in the lagoon.

The child's death did not appear to happen on scene, Ervin said, calling the crime "very perplexing."

"I am baffled. This is not something that you hear of in the African American community," he said. "People are just shocked that somebody would do something like this... to chop a child up. We're shocked."

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