The two-day search for a missing Zion baby took a turn Thursday after police said they feared he might no longer be alive and called on residents to search their garbage cans.
More than 200 police officers and emergency workers searched for 5-month-old Joshua Summeries, who was reported missing by his mother around 8 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said. The mother told police that her boyfriend also was gone.
Late Thursday, police announced they were seeking information from the boyfriend, whom they described as a "person of interest." No charges were announced.
Authorities have released few details in the case and have communicated with the community primarily through the Police Department's Facebook page and a recorded message issued through the city's reverse 911 system.
On Wednesday, police looked to reassure residents that "rumors of deceased individuals at the scene are not true" and said the public was not in danger.
By midday Thursday, Zion police Chief Wayne Brooks said Joshua still had not been found and that the chief feared the boy had been "harmed or worse."
Police continued their search late into the day even as hope of the child's survival waned. Zion Mayor Lane Harrison said officers methodically searched the city of 25,000 "in grid fashion, leaving no stone unturned" and were unable to find him.
Officials went door to door "painstakingly" trying to gather information from "anyone who may have seen something," police said, stressing that it appeared to be an isolated incident.
Brooks asked residents to conduct a "detailed search of their own property and specifically their garbage cans," which he said were "an obvious place to dispose or hide anything of evidentiary value."
Trash pickup around the baby's home, in the 2300 block of Galilee Avenue, was to be delayed until Friday, police said. An orange biohazard sticker had been placed on the door of the first-floor apartment.
"My hope is that the baby's still alive," Brooks said. "My fear is no."
Given the child's age, it is unlikely he could survive alone for an extended time, the chief said. An Amber Alert was not issued because police have no reason to believe Joshua was taken outside the area, he added.
Police said that in addition to the boyfriend, they have spoken to Joshua's mother and father.
A spokesman for the Department of Children and Family Services said he could not say whether the agency had previous contact with the family because a death was not reported and charges were not filed.
Copyright 2013 - Chicago Tribune
McClatchy-Tribune News Service