CHICAGO — Police have released a sketch of a toddler whose dismembered remains were found in a Garfield Park lagoon, and the city's top cop said "we're not going to rest until we solve this particular crime."
The composite image, released Thursday, shows what the child might have looked like and was made by a Cook County sketch artist. The sketch was done freehand based on photographs by the artist, who said it was "as accurate as [he] can [get]" with the information he has.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said a "Herculean effort" was underway to find out what happened to "the baby."
"Whether or not this is a murder we don't know at this point," McCarthy said, but a "helpless child" should never end up like this.
McCarthy said the person who dismembered the child's body and left it at the lagoon may have panicked after the child's death and may have psychological issues. He said the child's death was not necessarily a murder.
"There was certainly a crime committed — maybe not a murder," he said. "I honestly think we're going to find somebody who panicked and didn't know what to do with the" child's remains.
Garry McCarthy says police need help from the community:
The sketch was released during a Thursday news conference. McCarthy held a copy of it as he spoke. Behind him, balloons from a makeshift memorial for the toddler bobbed in the wind over two teddy bears. Someone had written on one of the ballons: "Rest in Heaven, sweet angel" and "You are loved by so many."
The toddler will be honored at a candlelight prayer vigil led by Tio Hardiman, CEO of Violence Interrupters, and other community leaders. The vigil is 7-8 p.m. Thursday at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Hamlin. There will be another vigil led by religious leaders at 6 p.m. at the park's field house on North Central Park Avenue.
Police said the child was African American or mixed race and was 1 1/2 to 4 years old. Their "best estimate" is the child was 2 to 3 years old. The child had short, curly, black hair and brown eyes, according to a statement from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. The child's earlobes were not pierced, and that, coupled with the toddler's short hair, suggests "the child may be male (but female gender cannot be ruled out at present)."
The toddler's head, hands and feet have been found, but police are searching by hand and draining the lagoon in hopes of finding the toddler's torso and other evidence.
"We believe the ... remains have been there roughly between a week and two weeks," Chicago Police Chief John Escalante said Thursday.
The body parts will be tested for DNA to help identify the child and his or her parents, though McCarthy said analysis "could happen very quickly" or "could take a long time."
McCarthy said the marine unit is working 24/7 "until we resolve this issue" and the city is making progress draining the lagoon. Cadaver dogs have been used to search the area, as well.
Investigators are going door to door in the area as they look for information about the toddler. They've also set up a tip number at 312-744-8261. The phones will be manned around the clock, with and police will "take every phone call and follow up on every lead," said Chief John Escalante at a news conference on Wednesday.
Tips about the case can also be texted to 74637. Police have said they will use every resource the city has available to find out who the toddler was and why he or she was dismembered after death and left at the lagoon.
"The full weight of the city of Chicago is behind this investigation," said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi at a Wednesday news conference. "We are going to find who is responsible.
"I don't have the words to describe how reprehensible ... this is. The fact that somebody could do this to a child is, frankly, unimaginable."
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