Semaj Crosby's killer unknown

  • By C S
  • 10 Jun, 2017
Chicago SUN TIMES

DCFS visited Joliet home 33 hours before baby found dead there

Chicago News  04/28/2017, 01:50pm  Stefano Esposito/ Sun-Times  Luke Wilusz, Stefano Esposito and Jordan Owen

At 3:20 p.m. Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was at the home of 16-month-old Semaj Crosby, investigating a child-neglect allegation, but saw “no obvious hazards or safety concerns” for Semaj or her two brothers, state officials said.

About two-and-a-half hours later, the baby girl disappeared, prompting a massive search of the subdivision near Joliet.

But late Wednesday, police found Semaj’s lifeless body inside the same home that DCFS had apparently deemed safe the day before, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

And on Thursday, a top police official said that house was in “very deplorable” condition, adding that a lawyer for the girl’s mother made them get a search warrant before they entered it and found the girl.

The series of events has led authorities to open a “suspicious death” investigation into the tragedy, said Rick Ackerson, investigations deputy chief with the Will County sheriff’s office. No one was in custody and no criminal charges had been filed as of Friday afternoon.

The Will County coroner’s office is awaiting the results of lab testing and toxicology reports to make a final determination on the cause of her death, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. However, there were “no visible signs of blunt force trauma or physical injury to the body of Semaj Crosby to indicate the exact cause of death.”

Semaj was last seen about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, playing with between six and eight other children outside her home near Luana Road and Richards Street in unincorporated Joliet, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office and FBI executed the search warrant about 11 p.m. Wednesday at the home in the 300 block of Louis Road and found Semaj dead about midnight.

Her body was found underneath a couch, according to the sheriff’s office. Investigators found no damage to the couch that would indicate her body was placed inside or through it.

Semaj Crosby was reported missing on Tuesday night from Joliet Township. | Will County sheriff’s office

Ackerson said Semaj’s mother was not as forthcoming as she could have been: “I won’t say totally reluctant, but I wouldn’t say 100 percent cooperative, either.”

At some point, Ackerson added, the family retained an attorney, who “interjected himself in the case, and cut us off. He said we were not allowed in the house without a search warrant. . . .”

“The house was in very deplorable condition,” Ackerson said, noting that five to 15 people were living there at any given time. Other than the mother and her three children, the attorney for the family described the other people living in the house as “squatters.”

Maria Jones’ house is at Louis Road and Richards Street, just four houses down from where Semaj lived.

Jones, 60, said the family has lived in the house for about a year. She said police had been called to the residence at least twice in that time, although she didn’t know the reason.

“We’d be sitting out on the patio, and they were always cussin’ and fussin’,” said Jones. “You’d see people coming and going all the time.”

All of those people, Ackerson said, are being sought for questioning.

“We’re going to try to interview everybody who was there,” Ackerson said. He also wants another interview with the mother, “just to get her side of the story again.”

The mother also has two sons, and both were still in her care Thursday morning, Ackerson said, adding that DCFS would be responsible for determining whether to remove the children from the mother’s care. The oldest of the two is 13, he said.

A DCFS spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday afternoon, citing the ongoing investigations by police and the agency.

“We will continue to find out why this ended in such a tragic way,” Ackerson said.

 

Chicago Sun Times

Police: Semaj’s death now an ‘ongoing criminal investigation’

Chicago  05/05/2017, 03:19pm   Sam Charles @samjcharles  | email

The Will County sheriff’s office is now describing Semaj Crosby’s death as “an ongoing criminal investigation” while also disclosing that its officers visited the house where the toddler was found dead nearly 60 times in a little more than a year’s time, newly obtained records show.

Previously, authorities had characterized the toddler’s death as “suspicious” — but not “criminal.”

An attorney for Semaj’s mother declined to comment Thursday afternoon.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Chicago Sun-Times, the sheriff’s office withheld some records, citing “an ongoing criminal investigation.” But the sheriff’s office did disclose that officers came to Semaj’s Joliet Township house 59 times between February 2016 and April 2017.

Forty of those calls were for probation checks. And two of those calls were for “welfare checks,” one of them in October 2016 and one on March 4, 2017, records show.

In the October call, officers were not able to make contact with the family.

It was unclear if contact with the family was made during the March visit, and officers wrote that a follow-up report would be filed, though it is unclear whether that occurred.

Friday, the Will County sheriff’s office issued a statement saying the Sun-Times mischaracterized information disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request. Despite the sheriff’s office denying the Sun-Times records under the “criminal investigation” exemption, the office said Friday that “the case is still considered a ‘suspicious death’ investigation” that has always been considered “criminal.”

The sheriff’s office said that the 40 probation visits were carried out by the Will County Probation Office, a separate entity.

“When a Probation officer visits a residence, for whatever reason, they are required to call the Sheriff’s 911 dispatch center,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “Sheriff’s deputies do not respond to these visits unless requested to do so from Probation personnel.”

Among the other reasons for sheriff’s department visits: four were for disturbances, some domestic in nature; four were for “public service;” two were for “crisis intervention;” two were to deliver subpoenas; two were for building checks; one for assistance to the fire department; one for arson and one for the death of Semaj, whose lifeless body was found under a couch about 33 hours after an investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services had been at the house.

The investigator had been at the home less than three hours before Semaj vanished to investigate a previous neglect allegation and saw “no obvious hazards or safety concerns” for the little girl or her two brothers, officials have said. DCFS had been working with the family since September 2016.

The sheriff’s office said the child was discovered dead late the night of April 26.

Semaj and her family moved into the home in the 300 block of Louis about one year ago, according to the sheriff’s office, though — since her biological parents did not live together — it was not known exactly how much time Semaj spent in the home.

An autopsy did not rule on the girl’s cause of death, pending the results of lab and toxicology tests. There were no obvious signs of trauma or injury, the sheriff’s office said last week, adding that they were still “interviewing cooperating witnesses and some family members.”

No arrests have been made.

Photos released earlier this week by the Will County Department of Land Use appeared to support the characterization that the home was in “deplorable” conditions when the child was found dead inside.

“The entire structure appeared unsanitary because of the heavily soiled carpets, walls, garbage and [it] contains a serious degree of filth,” an inspector noted in her report.

The inspector went on to describe the back door and electrical panel blocked by “strollers, black garbage bags, toys, clothing and containers.”

The home was deemed “unfit for human occupancy.”

During a Legislative hearing Wednesday in Springfield, DCFS Director George Sheldon said his department is conducting a review to determine what it missed — if anything — about the case. He expects the agency to complete its investigation within several days.

Sheldon told lawmakers he would release records if police investigations determine the girl died at the hands of a caregiver. If the cause of death is ruled otherwise, Sheldon said, he would not have the authority to order the release. But he told news reporters later that he would “join the media” in asking for such records to be unsealed.

During the Senate panel’s hearing, Sheldon questioned the circumstances of Semaj’s body being found beneath the couch, which had no legs.

“Obviously something was going on and apparently an individual or individuals attempted to hide that fact,” he said.

It’s not clear who was in the home when the girl disappeared, authorities have said. The Will County Sheriff’s Office said last week that numerous squatters frequented the property.

Sheldon said dirty conditions inside the house were not reason enough to remove Semaj and her brothers from their mother’s care.

Will County Sheriff’s officers blocked off the street where Semaj Crosby lived. The 16-month-old girl’s body was found in a home on Louis Road late Wednesday. By Thursday afternoon, a makeshift memorial had sprung up at the corner. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Ackerson had noted that police had previously been called to the home a few times, most recently for a “domestic situation” on Easter Sunday. No arrests were made in that incident.

DCFS has been working with the family since September 2016, with four unfounded investigations for neglect, and two other pending investigations for neglect opened in March 2017, agency officials said

By C S 05 Aug, 2017

Bradenton Herald

January 18, 2017 2:56 PM

By C S 05 Aug, 2017

BY Kerry Burke   Mary Mcdonnell   Graham Rayman   Larry Mcshane

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Updated: Saturday, January 28, 2017, 4:06 AM

It took city officials five months to confirm what neighbors suspected immediately: 3-year-old Caleb Rivera  was a murder victim.

“I had an idea,” said Nikki Whatley, 39, who performed CPR on the gaunt little boy outside their East Harlem apartment building last August.

“I still see that boy’s eyes in my nightmare and in my dreams,” said Whatley, the mother of four. “That boy was lifeless when I got to him.”

Caleb’s death was declared a homicide Friday after the city medical examiner determined he was killed by multiple blows to the head and neck.

The boy’s mother, who was in their apartment with two men when Caleb was mortally injured, insisted she had no idea who was to blame for her son’s killing.

“I am not talking to anybody about anything,” mom Alexandra Guzman said from behind the door of her apartment on Friday. “I am not giving up anything. Why are you harassing me?”

Asked specifically who killed little Caleb Rivera, the mother answered, “Nobody. It was — have a good day. Nobody. That is the only answer you’ll get from me.”

Construction worker Adrian Rivera, 24, the child’s father, said he’s suspected for months that Guzman was hiding something.

“He was a happy healthy baby and I loved my baby,” he said. “They should both go to jail. I want to know: Did he do this and then she covered up? If the police won’t do something, I will.”

Rivera said after he and Guzman broke up, she barred him from seeing Caleb. He said he begged her to bring the baby to his mother’s house. “She wouldn’t. I texted her the week before (Caleb died): ‘Please bring me my baby.’ She said she was good where she was. She wouldn’t bring him to me, and then this happened.”

By Jane Alvarez 30 Jul, 2017

             April, Child Abuse Awareness month, has passed. It went by without any comment from the Director of Social Services, Ted Myers (“…blood is thicker than water…”, or attorney Andrew Wolf, (“…we do the legally correct thing…”).

            During television interviews with Santa Barbara’s KEYT-TV a few of years ago on the question raised by a Ventura County Star editorial regarding the whereabouts of Mario,  these gentlemen, in making the above statements,  attempted to explain why Social Service workers, and an a child advocate attorney advocate and/or permit the re-unification of an abused child with its abuser(s).  Mario was a toddler beaten into a coma by his mother.  Social workers reunified Mario with his mother even though he continued to be abused. 

            We have heard, and continue to hear, numerous times that Social Services’ purpose is to protect children from abuse. The child’s advocate in Court is supposed to also protect their right to freedom from abuse. Neither succeeds.

            And the reason they do not is revealed by their statements. Their hands are tied. Mr. Wolf is correct, re-unification is the legally correct thing to do, never mind that questions of ethics and morality are raised by the re-unification of a person who lacks love and parenting skills with a child who is helpless to speak for or defend himself.  

            And, yes, though it is a convenient and telling euphemism, blood is thicker than water. It merely goes to prove the point that a tiny human feels a craving for and needs love from the only caregiver it has known from birth. Though the child bonds, the adult may not want to or cannot commit to a responsibility.

            Congress, in its infinite wisdom, saw the tragedies brought about by the abuse of children. They saw not only the physical and emotional effects, but also acknowledged that deaths of children were sometimes the outcome of such conduct. They further saw the financial toll upon society, not only for the treatment of the physical and emotional injuries, but upon the fact that some of these children become a financial burden rather than positive contributors to society. As Congress does best they began the battle against child abuse by passing laws, in this case, Title 42 of the United States Code, Chapter 67, Section 5106a.

            This released money to fund Social Services and created responsibilities to fund programs. It created a confidentiality clause to protect not only the child’s identity and reputation but also that of the abuser. It required every State to pass a law saying that re-unification of the abused with its abuser was not required. But it also stated that despite a parent or caregiver having killed or assaulted a child the State (read as Judge), could, on a case by case basis, reunify a child of the sibling with the killer or abuser. Congress sat back; it had passed a law to protect children.

            In other words, blood is thicker than water and re-unification is the legally correct thing to do, regardless of what further injuries the child will suffer. 

By Jane Alvarez 30 Jul, 2017

 I recently attended a meeting where I listened to gut-wrenching stories from adults who feared for the safety of their children who were reporting sexual crimes against them by family members. As the founder of The Children’s Wall of Tears™, these stories are not new to me as I hear hundreds of cases each year.

  • When there is testimony from children telling of abuse, and no one is charged with the crime, I wonder why there are so many deaf ears.
  • When there are written notes from therapists saying the child is a credible witness and the child still remains in the home with the abuser,
 I wonder where the justice is for this child. Who are these social workers and judges who overlook these very important facts? Does the family unit come before the child’s safety? Remember the attorney who said, “ We don’t do what is in the child’s best interest. We do the legally correct thing. ” (KEYT-TV documentary “Where’s Mario?” between me & court appointed child attorney.)
 Solutions?
  • Re-define the family unit. A family unit doesn’t burn, beat, break bones, starve, scald, kill or sexually molest their children.
  • Define child abuse as the crime it is.  Child abusers are criminals. It is not a family problem. If I slap you, you can have me arrested. If I injure you, I can be charged with a felony assault. Why is it that we beat, burn, break bones, scald, starve, sexually molest our children and it is a family problem?
  •  Hold judges and social workers accountable when they continually reunify defenseless children with their abusers and the child continues to suffer. Police officers are held accountable when their actions cause injury or death,  yet, judges and social workers have a great deal of information PRIOR to their decisions when they reunify an abused child with their abusers and the child(ren) dies, they are not held accountable. 
  • Lift the cloak of confidentiality from judges and social services. CPS decline to comment about its actions, citing confidentiality.    Many say, “We can do better.” I say, “Why aren’t we doing better?”
By Jane Alvarez 30 Jul, 2017

      Recently Leo and I visited the great city of Oklahoma and toured the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial.  Without a doubt, this memorial strengthened our faith in the American people, our patriotism and our feelings against terrorism. We could not help but walk away from this great monument with a passion that undoubtedly carved our futures. Throughout our tour of the memorial we could not help but think about the 168 lives lost in this horrific event. There was one particular photo on the wall of the daycare center showing children that were signed-in that fateful day. It haunts us. What madman would callously murder innocent children, let alone adults?

     We read every sign and studied every photo in the museum.  We were overwhelmed with sadness and rage at the very same time.  We began to systematically think about terrorism and what it really means and how it affects our lives.

            –noun

          1. 

the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.

          2.  the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terroization.


          3.  a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

     Terrorism begins with creating a fear within the victim and escalates quickly to injury and in many cases death. Until September 11, 2001, few Americans were aware that terror existed beyond that seen on movies or on TV.   After 911, we became aware of our vulnerability to suffering at the hands of people who find it acceptable to inflict pain on innocent people without blinking an eye. The bombing in Oklahoma City  traumatized this great nation. We were forced to face the anxiety of knowing that at any time, in any place, violence can strike, and in that respect, we are now victims of terrorism.

            While we feel a deep sadness for the victims of the attacks in New York City and Washington D.C., the plane crash in Pennsylvania and their families and the Oklahoma City Bombing and their families, who have lived to suffer the devastating pain of the loss of a loved one, we began to think about the children here in the United States who live under this anxiety every day. How did we overlook their terrorism?   Most call it child abuse. We call it child cruelty.

            In child’s world, violence comes not at the hands of politically motivated extremists, but from their parents or caregivers. Suffering comes not from weapons of mass destruction, but fists, belts, scalding water, locked in dark closets, and cruel words. Attacks are not a rare occurrence, but a daily reality. Knowing that it is coming is the epitome of terrorism especially since a child is incapable of defending himself and does not know where to turn to avoid the torture and pain of neglect or abuse.

            We kept thinking about the fact that while we watched news coverage of buildings crumbling and thousands of terrified, innocent people running for their lives, young spirits are being crushed at the hands of heartless adults with no high-profile media coverage to spark a country to awareness and action. Yes, we occasionally see, hear and read of young victims being abused or killed, but, few people are moved to act. The usual response to such news is an “…Oh, no!...” statement, and then on to breaking news.

            While troops of rescue workers sift through debris in a desperate attempt to recover victims, young children are cowering in corners after yet another merciless beating, wondering if anyone cares enough to rescue them. While an entire nation mourns for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and the Oklahoma City Bombing, abused children continue to suffer horrifically with no tears of sadness shed on their behalf. Is it apathy on the part of the general public? Apparently so. we don’t see any great rush of humanity at the breaking story of another child being beaten or killed. Nor do we see more than platitudes from public officials or legislators. Yes, you will hear comments that such and such should be investigated. You hear that so and so is understaffed, overworked, and over whelmed but you do not hear from the front line workers who deal with child abuse on a daily basis.

            For the past 25 years, we have been working to increase America’s awareness to the horrors of child cruelty and to bring the reality of the unimaginable level of physical and mental suffering these children deal with to the forefront.

           We have written numerous commentaries and letters to the editors of newspapers and given speeches and talks to various groups and organizations. We have spoken in Washington, D.C. before a distinguished group of professionals and even sponsored a law in the California Legislature to provide computerized criminal history to child protective service workers so that they do not reunify the child with criminals.  Unfortunately, that law failed in the appropriations department.  Apparently $50,000 for the entire State of California is not worth protecting children.  We have spent anguished hours over the opposition we have received and welcomed the pats on the back. But, child cruelty continues and children continue to live the daily terror awaiting the next blow.

            Statistics show that everyday, scores of children are terrorized by abusive parents and that list continues to grow each year. Every 10 seconds a child is abused. Every 5 hours a child is killed. In cold, hard terms that means that every day a small hand is held over a flame, an infant is dipped in scalding water, a child is forced to swallow household cleansers, an empty stomach grumbles while parents eat, a terrified toddler trembles in a dark, locked closet, a tiny arm is broken, a life comes to a premature end. The scenes of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were difficult to look at, but, they can’t compare to the scenes that flash in front of the small eyes of an abused child.

            I leave it to you to decide if a child, under these circumstances, is experiencing not only terror but wondering when it all will end.

            The unified resolve shown by the American people following the recent terrorist attacks is impressively powerful and elicits confidence that swift, sure action will be taken to punish and prevent terrorist acts. If only that same level of mass resolve were focused on saving abused children. If only our country stood unified in the defense of these helpless children, how many young victims of daily terrorism could be saved? How many small spirits could be recovered? How many terrorists could be stopped?

            We wonder what horrendous atrocity must occur to a child before every American resolves to put an end to child cruelty in every home in which it occurs.We  have stated before, in print and speeches, that there is a pandemic of child cruelty throughout the world. Now, with the advent of the bird flu, mad cow disease, tainted spinach, Aids and other “epidemics”, the word pandemic has become as familiar to us as the word terrorism and, unfortunately, we must now state that a pandemic of child cruelty now exists on this Planet.

            Simply put in perspective, if a disease were killing hundreds of children in America each year, the Center for Disease Control would mobilize everything it could to find the cause. Federal and State governments would spend millions on treatment and trying to find a cure. No stone would be left un-turned and no sum of money would be too great in an effort to end the pandemic.  Over 3,000 children are kiled through abuse and neglect each year.  Is that not an epidemic in your eyes?

            Yes, our lives were forever changed by our  visit to the Oklahoma Bombing Memorial

By C S 28 Jul, 2017

Interesting stories about famous people, biographies, humorous stories, photos and videos. Top of Form

Bottom of Form

By Leo Alvarez 24 Jul, 2017
It bothers many of us, and if it doesn’t bother you there is something wrong with you. I’m referring to child abuse and neglect and the killing of children.
They may deny it but the Powers That Be don’t care about American children suffering and dying, at least the Record indicates this. If they did things would change. They are interested in keeping families together, particularly the dysfunctional ones because they do not deal with “normal” families.
An attorney once said, as he referred to abused children, We may not necessarily do what is in the best interest of the child, but, we do the legally correct thing. He was and still is in the Just A System, along with the judges, Court appointed child advocates and CPS – they all know, but either keep silent or quit and give up and the children continue to suffer and die.
One law, CAPTA (Google it), Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, is a Federal law which cannot be superceded by State laws. It is the tail that wags the dog because all States, if they want federal funding for Social Services, must comply with it. Child abuse, and resulting death, are crimes and should be prosecuted, but sometimes they are not.
CAPTA contains the confidentiality clause and the clause that says a child cannot be reunified with the killer of its sibling, except on a case by case basis to be determined by a judge.
Do you want a child abuse victim to be sent home with the abuser? It is done every day and it will continue until You and I and every American wises up.
By C S 05 Jul, 2017
Azcentral THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC  
By C S 03 Jul, 2017

Body of Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Found Near Lake Cachuma as His Father Is Accused of His Murder

By Dave Quinn @NineDaves  July 1, 2017

The body of a missing 5-year-old California boy last seen in late April  has been found near a Santa Barbara County lake, homicide detectives confirmed to PEOPLE Saturday.

Aramazd Andressian  Jr. was found near Lake Cachuma on Friday, after additional leads brought homicide detectives back to the area searching for additional evidence.

The discovery came hours after the boy’s father, Aramazd Andressian Sr., was extradited to Los Angeles where he has been charged with the 5-year-old’s murder. The 35-year-old man was detained on June 23 in Las Vegas  in connection with his son’s death, and is being held on $10 million bail on a single murder count.

The boy was last seen on April 20, when he and his father visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California. They left the theme park around midnight.

Within a week of the boy’s disappearance, police arrested his dad on suspicion of one count of child endangerment and one count of child abduction. But they released him days later , citing “insufficient evidence.” It was not immediately clear what prompted his re-arrest.

Officials confirm that Andressian, Sr. and his wife, Ana Estevez, are embroiled in a bitter divorce, but they shared custody of their son.

Andressian, Jr. was supposed to be dropped off by his father in San Marino, California, on April 22 — but the elder Andressian failed to show. Instead, he was found passed out near his car in a nearby park. Police have alleged that the inside of his car was doused with gasoline and there were matches in his vehicle.

Andressian, Sr. told investigators he believed he was attacked, but he had no memory of the assault. He also told police he had taken some prescription medication that morning before falling unconscious, CNN reported .

“There has been a great deal of speculation regarding the timeline around his disappearance,” Andressian, Sr. wrote in a statement  issued nearly a week after his son vanished. “The last time I saw my son was on Saturday morning, the 22nd, at Arroyo Park near my home in South Pasadena. After breakfast Aramazd Jr. wanted to go to the park before we were to meet his mother for a custody exchange at 9:00 a.m.”

“In one moment, I was at the park with my son, and then I found myself waking up in Huntington Memorial Hospital hours later,” he continued. “I was told that a good Samaritan found me unconscious on the ground near my car, with young Aramazd nowhere in sight. I can only speculate that I must have been attacked in the park, given my unresponsive state and subsequent physical condition.”

“My family and I are heartbroken and grief-stricken that Aramazd Jr. is missing and may be in harm’s way,” he continued. “I am pleading with the public to come forward with any knowledge of Aramazd Jr.’s whereabouts or information regarding the circumstances leading up to his disappearance.”

Estevez has also spoken publicly , pleading for the public’s help at a May news conference with law enforcement.

“There are no words to describe how devastated and heartbroken I am,” Estevez said through tears, before speaking directly to her son. “This message is for you my love: Be brave, honey. Don’t ever forget that mama loves you to the moon and the stars. I am counting the days until I see you honey, and I will never stop looking for you.”

“To those who are concealing my son, I pray every day that God will touch your heart and guide you to do the right thing and return my son,” she said.

Anyone with any information about this ongoing case can call the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department at 323-890-5500 or police in South Pasadena, California, at 626-403-7297.

 
By C S 03 Jul, 2017
The Columbus Dispatch
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