Semaj Crosby lawsuit drags on four years after toddler’s death

WGN Investigates

WILL COUNTY, Ill. — April 27 marked the four-year anniversary of the death of Semaj Crosby, the 17-month-old girl whose body was found stuffed beneath a couch in a cramped, filthy home in Joliet Township.

Her mother, Sheri Gordon, reported her missing on April 25, 2017 — a day after the family was visited by a subcontractor of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

A massive search of the area by the Will County Sheriff’s Office proved fruitless. When investigators returned to the home two days later, the body of 17-month-old Semaj was found under a couch.

A few days later, the home was burned to the ground. The lot remains vacant today.

The Will County Coroner’s Office ruled Semaj’s death homicide by asphyxiation, but the full autopsy report has not been released publicly.

Investigators have said that several members of Semaj’s immediate family — her mother, paternal grandmother and aunt — were persons of interest in the case.

As the criminal investigation drags on, a civil suit over the child’s death also remains active.

DCFS, an agency subcontractor and Gordon were named as defendants when the suit was filed in 2018.

Nearly three years after the case was filed, the attorney for Semaj’s estate says the release of several key documents — including the child’s autopsy — has been delayed because Semaj’s death is still considered an ongoing investigation.

“They refuse to produce documents,” Deratany said of authorities in Will County. “They say, ‘It’s an ongoing investigation,’ but Will County has an obligation to conduct its investigation in a timely fashion. I don’t believe — It’s my opinion that they haven’t done so.”

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