CHICAGO -- Accused of killing a 2-year-old boy, dismembering his body, and dumping the parts in the Garfield Park Lagoon, Kamel Harris was denied bail by a Cook County judge Wednesday.
It was Labor Day weekend last year when a visitor to the Garfield Park Lagoon discovered a human foot floating in the waters. Soon after, Chicago Police divers found severed hands, a foot cut off at the ankle, and a barbell weight with a knotted plastic bag attached to it. A severed head was inside. The lagoon was drained but the boy’s torso was never found.
Experts used the toddler’s head to create a sketch of what they thought the baby looked like, hoping someone would come forward. Two weeks after the body parts turned up, 2-year-old Kyrian Knox was reported missing in Rockford, Illinois. The FBI matched Kyrian’s DNA with the body parts and his death was ruled a homicide.
Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Santini said Kyrian's mother had made plans to move her family to Iowa, and as she went ahead to prepare her new home there, she asked Harris, who was a friend of a friend, to watch her son for a short period of time.
Police say Harris later reported the baby missing, but they didn’t have evidence of foul play until they searched the man’s car.
“Once we took the vehicle with a search warrant, we tore out the carpeting and recovered the baby’s blood in the vehicle,” Commander Duffin said.
Prosecutors say he borrowed a Chevy Camaro and went to Chicago to dump the body, thinking if he dismembered it, the boy would not be identified.
“He admitted to dumping the body in Chicago and not in Rockford, so it wouldn’t be connected to him," Santini said.
Police say based on third party statements, Kyrian had ingested some milk, and since he was lactose intolerant he kept crying all afternoon, which led Harris to kill him.
"He just snapped and couldn’t deal with it anymore,” said CPD Commander Kevin Duffin.
“Harris called a witness and said he had f’d up and something terrible had happened,” Santini said during the hearing.
After a long, difficult investigation, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson praised the department’s work.
“Back then we said we would not give up until we brought his killer to justice. Today, I’m proud to say we have kept our promise,” he said.
Harris was charged Tuesday with one felony count of First Degree Murder, one felony count of Concealment of Homicidal Death and one felony count of Dismembering a Human Body. Prosecutors also say that Harris threatened witnesses and told them not to talk to police. He was already in Winnebago County jail for battery in an unrelated case.
Knox’s family and friends were in court Wednesday, and were visibly shaken after hearing the details. They were too distraught to speak with reporters.
Harris was denied bail Wednesday, and the judge called him a “danger to society.”