The body of a 1½-year-old girl was found at a "deplorable" Illinois home that she and her mother shared with squatters after her mother reluctantly allowed detectives inside to search and a day after she reported her daughter missing, police said Thursday. Deputy Chief Rick Ackerson said Semaj Crosby's death was "suspicious," but that an autopsy is not yet complete. Ackerson said the investigation was hindered by the girl's mother's refusal until late Wednesday night to allow authorities to search the house in Joliet. The mother initially spoke to investigators, but later refused to answer questions on the advice of an attorney, he said. At one point during an interview with investigators at the house, she fell silent after another resident pounded on the door and shouted for her to stop talking, the AP reports
Ackerson said it wasn't clear who was in the house when the girl disappeared, explaining that the attorney for the mother said that from five to 15 squatters "come and go as they please." "The house was in very deplorable conditions," Ackerson said, without elaborating. The mother reported her daughter missing on Tuesday, sparking a massive hunt. Until they found the body, investigators suspected Semaj had probably wandered off and perhaps had hidden herself somewhere and fallen asleep. On Thursday, Ackerson said that deputies had made a "cursory" search of the residence on Tuesday and did not find the girl.