One day after the body of 1-year-old Semaj Crosby was laid to rest, a fire destroyed the Illinois home where the young girl was found dead, burning it to the ground.
Emergency crews responded to a fire at the home in the 300 block of Louis Rd in Joliet Township around 3:09 a.m., according to East Joliet Fire Chief Robert Scholtes.
Upon arrival, firefighters witnessed smoke and for safety reasons, decided to let the house burn to the ground, officials said.
It completely burned down and the fire was struck out around 8 a.m., fire officials said.
The home was at the center of an ongoing investigation after the toddler was found lifeless under a couch last week following a massive manhunt after the girl was reported missing two days prior.
Autopsy results were still “pending further studies,” with many questions surrounding Semaj’s death.
Investigators with the Department of Child and Family Services said they saw the little girl safe at the home just hours before she went missing on April 25. A spokesperson said the agency had visited the home that day and were investigating Gordon for an allegation of neglect.
Investigators noted that the home was in “very deplorable conditions.”
Anywhere from five to 15 people typically lived there at a given time, officials said, adding that the attorney for Semaj’s mother, Sheri Gordon, told them many of those residents were considered “squatters.”
“They come and go as they please, they may be there for a week, they might be there for a night,” Deputy Chief Rick Ackerson with the Will County Sheriff’s Office said during a news conference.
Will County Sheriff’s deputies reportedly visited the Joliet home where she was found close to 60 times in a little more than a year – 40 times for probation checks, as well as other disturbances and crisis intervention.
The sheriff’s office said it was Gordon’s attorney that helped authorities get consent to search the home around 11 p.m. Wednesday, before investigators discovered the body of the girl an hour later.
“Ms. Gordon is extremely distraught over the death of her only daughter,” law firm Chuck Bretz and Associates, which is representing Gordon, posted on its Facebook page after Semaj was found.
“She will continue to support the investigation in this matter to the best of her abilities,” the statement continued. “She prays for her daughter and appreciates the community’s support in this matter. We look forward to when we can put this tragic incident behind us and allow the healing to begin.”
As of Saturday morning, no one was in custody or had been named a suspect in the case.
The home that burned down Saturday had been condemned, and Semaj’s brothers were placed in foster care, according to police.
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, fire officials said.