WILL COUNTY, Ill. — A nearly $6.5 million settlement was reached this week in the lawsuit stemming from the 2017 death of 17-month-old Semaj Crosby in Joliet Township, but details of the toddler’s death remain closely guarded by authorities in Will County and out of public view.

Semaj’s mother reported the child missing on April 25, 2017. Two days later, Semaj’s body was found under a legless couch inside the family’s squalid, cramped home in the 300 block of Louis Road. That home burned to the ground just days later, and authorities in Will County have previously said that the blaze was intentionally set.

The Will County Coroner’s Office ruled Semaj’s death a homicide by asphyxiation, though her autopsy still has not been publicly released nearly five years since her passing. No criminal charges have been filed in either Semaj’s death or the fire that destroyed the family’s home.

Jay Paul Deratany represented Semaj’s father in his lawsuit filed against Children’s Home + Aid, a social service provider that, through a contract with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, was assigned to monitor Semaj’s family in the months before her death.

Semaj Crosby

A caseworker visited Semaj’s family just hours before the toddler was reported missing.

Speaking with WGN on Friday, Deratany said Will County’s steadfast refusal to provide the autopsy in the civil case likely inhibited any potential criminal prosecution.

“Will County wouldn’t release its autopsy records or anything,” Deratany said. “It could’ve helped the civil case, which could’ve, in turn, helped the criminal case.”

Deratany said the settlement will be split up between Semaj’s four siblings. The toddler’s father, meanwhile, still doesn’t know what led to her death.

“He just wants to know who did this to his child and we don’t have answers,” Deratany said.

Last summer, an attorney for Children’s Home + Aid argued that the lack of an autopsy meant that the DCFS contractor could not be held liable for Semaj’s death.

“Since there is no evidence of how Semaj died, there is no evidence to link her death to anything CHA did or did not do,” CHA attorney Thomas Carton wrote in a memorandum filed last year. “Consequently, Plaintiff’s entire case against CHA is premised solely, and impermissibly, upon speculation and conjecture, with no factual evidence to take to trial.”

Carton and a representative for Children’s Home + Aid did not respond to requests for comment.