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Toddler's Dismembered Body Found In Garfield Park Lagoon [Updated]

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Sep 8, 2015 2:40PM

The dismembered head, hands and feet of an unidentified toddler were discovered in Garfield Park Lagoon over Labor Day weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, police received a report that there was a foot floating in the lagoon on the West Side, according to the Chicago Tribune. It turned out to be the left foot belonging to a child who is African-American and between two and three years old, authorities said. The other foot, two hands and a 20-pound weight were found 25 yards away. On Sunday evening, the toddler's head was discovered. Some of the remains were found in a plastic bag, Fox 43 reports.

Authorities are working to identify the child and also the manner of death. They told Fox 32 that there are no outstanding missing child reports in the area.

The limbs were unclothed and in an advanced state of decomposition. Richard Kling, a clinical professor at Kent College of Law, told ABC 7 the decomposing process may have been slowed down since the body was found in a lagoon rather than, say, Lake Michigan: "Lagoon is more stagnant, so question of how much oxygen and bacteria affect the body."

Perry Starks, a member of the Garfield Park Advisory Council, told the Tribune that there have been issues with drug-dealing and prostitution in the park. Recently, the park has been upgraded, but more lighting is needed. Residents told ABC 7 that the lagoon and brush around it are dark at night, so it's not surprising that someone would be able to dump a body without raising alarms. But they were still shocked to find the results of such a gruesome murder in their neighborhood.

"Garfield Park is the jewel of the West Side, and that someone would bring this type of nonsense to this community is reprehensible," Alderman Jason Ervin told ABC 7. "This is not a reflection of the West Side of Chicago...Or the values of the Garfield Park community or the people who live in this city."

Update 11:30 a.m.: This morning the city's Water Department plans to start draining the lagoon to assist the investigation. The eastside of the lagoon with be dammed off at Central Park avenue and water will be pumped into sewers on Hamlin Boulevard. That means that road will be closed to traffic between Lake Street and Washington Boulevard.

"The Department of Water Management is assisting police in their investigation by draining the west side of the Garfield Park Lagoon,” the Police Office of News Affairs said in an email, according to CBS Los Angeles.

Once the investigation is done, the temporary dam will be removed and future rain water will help to refill the lagoon.