Police and volunteers began the search for the toddler in the Joliet Township neighborhood near Chicago last week, hoping she had simply wondered off.
However, Semaj’s body was found under the sofa of her family home just two days later. The home was described as being in a “very deplorable” condition that was often frequented by “squatters’.
Hours before the little girl went missing, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services visited the home because Semaj’s mother was under investigation for neglect. They concluded there was no threat to her immediate safety.
Will County sheriff's police labelled the death as suspicious.
“Having kids of my own...it's tough,” Rick Ackerson told reporters. “We will continue to try to find out why it ended in such a tragic end.”