Disturbing questions linger in Joliet-area toddler's death

Saturday, 06 May 2017, 08:08:08 PM. Semaj Crosby was buried in a pink dress and silver tiara, far from the squalid conditions in which she had lived.
Semaj Crosby was buried in a pink dress and silver tiara, far from the squalid conditions in which she had lived. Hundreds of mourners filled a Joliet church Friday to say goodbye to the 17-month-old girl whose disappearance set off a frantic search, which ended 30 hours later when her body was found under a couch in a filthy home later deemed uninhabitable. But more than a week after the grisly discovery, which sparked another crisis for Illinois' scandal-ridden child welfare agency, the toddler's death remains shrouded in mystery. Disturbing questions about whether warning signs were missed and what more might have been done by the Department of Children and Family Services, as well as other public agencies whose employees were in and out of the home in Semaj's final months, remain unanswered. DCFS Director George Sheldon — the agency's ninth chief since 2011 — is contemplating a move to a large Florida nonprofit just two years after his arrival. Roiled by Semaj's death, Sheldon met Friday with several Will County leaders and brainstormed ways to strengthen community support for struggling families. "There can be some positive coming out of this," he told the Tribune afterward. Asked if the toddler's death would be a factor if he leaves, Sheldon said, "If anything, it's an encouragement to stay." Authorities with the Will County sheriff's office continue to characterize the tragedy as a "suspicious death." An autopsy revealed no signs of trauma to Semaj's body, and results...Read more
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