COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A suburban man charged with murdering and dismembering 2-year-old Kyrian Knox admitted "he f----- up" and that "something terrible happened," prosecutors said Wednesday.
Kamel Harris, 41, is accused of killing the toddler because he wouldn't stop crying after being given milk, which the lactose-intolerant boy couldn't handle, police said.
Harris then dismembered Kyrian, wrapped the boy's body parts in plastic bags attached to barbell weights and dumped them in the Garfield Park lagoon in late August 2015, Assistant State's Attorney Jamie Santini said during a bond hearing.
Harris told a witness he assumed Kyrian couldn't be identified if his head was missing and his fingerprints eroded due to decomposition, Santini said.
Some of the plastic bags tore open, according to prosecutors, and Kyrian's dismembered hands and feet rose to the surface of the lagoon in early September 2015. Police drained the lagoon and found Kyrian's head wrapped in a bag with weights.
Harris, who'd been watching the boy while his mother moved to Iowa, is charged with first-degree murder. Cook County Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil denied Harris bail.
According to prosecutors, Harris first began caring for Kyrian on Aug. 19, 2015.
Kyrian's mother and Harris' daughter both planned to move to Iowa, Santini said, and hoped to set up their homes ahead of time. Harris agreed to watch his 2-year-old grandson and Kyrian for several weeks if the boys' mothers applied for public aid to help cover expenses, prosecutors said.
While the women were gone, Santini said, they frequently called and texted Harris and his girlfriend to check on the boys. Harris lived with his girlfriend and her two sons in suburban Rockford.
By early September, Harris became increasingly difficult to get in touch with, Santini said. Harris stopped answering the phone and failed to respond to Kyrian's mother's texts.
On Sep. 7, 2015, prosecutors said, Harris' daughter was finally able to get in touch with Harris to explain that she and Kyrian's mother would return to Rockford the weekend of Sep. 12 or Sept. 19. Harris never again responded to the women's calls or texts.
Two days earlier, on Sep. 5, 2015, Chicago Police officers responded to a call about a human foot found floating in the Garfield Park lagoon, Santini said.
While police searching the lagoon found the hands, feet and head, no other body parts were ever found.
Officers later used DNA evidence to confirm the boy's identity.
On Sep. 17, 2015, Harris called the Rockford Police Department to report Kyrian missing, according to prosecutors. He claimed he had given the boy to Kyrian's mother's friends and never saw the 2-year-old again.
Kyrian's mother had never asked anyone to pick up the boy, Santini said.
Detectives soon learned that Kyrian was last seen at Harris' house in late August. Harris was captured on surveillance footage driving a borrowed Chevrolet Camaro into Chicago on Aug. 31, 2015, prosecutors said.
That same day, Harris called a witness to say he had "f----- up" and that "something terrible happened," according to Santini.
Harris later told a different witness he "snapped" and killed a little boy he'd been watching, prosecutors said. Harris complained that the boy's mother hadn't given him enough money to look after him, Santini said.
According to prosecutors, Harris told that same witness he drove to Chicago, where he dismembered the boy and dumped him in the Garfield Park lagoon under the belief the body parts would decompose and no one would be able to identify Kyrian.
During the course of their investigation, police found several blood drops in the Camaro that was used to move Kyrian's body, prosecutors said. DNA testing revealed the blood belonged to Kyrian.
According to Santini, Harris threatened witnesses and relatives.
Harris is charged with first-degree murder, concealing a homicide and dismembering a human body.
He has a pending case in Winnebago County for aggravated battery to an employee from the Department of Child and Family Services. He was previously convicted of possession of a controlled substance and failure to return from furlough.
According to his public defender, Harris was recently enrolled in classes to learn hair design and barber skills. He lives with his aunt and has "some children," the attorney said.
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