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adopted by foster family

By Mike Sandrolini

MAYWOOD | Maywood Police Chief Tim Curry said he was cautiously
optimistic when he learned May 14 the body believed to be that of 1-year-
old Bryeon Hunter—the 1-year-old boy who was reportedly beaten to
death and then dumped into the Des Plaines River by his mother and
boyfriend—had been found.

“Out of the whole ordeal, there were many claims that the body was
found,” Curry said. “Many times (police were) sent to an area (after
getting a call) that the body was found, but there was no body. We had
been told this several times before … was it real or one of those days?”

But when it was verified that a body matching the description of Bryeon
was found that afternoon by Robert Larson of Westchester (see related
story), who had been voluntarily searching the river for weeks, Curry said
he was relieved.  “We applaud his (Larson’s) discovery,” he said. “Now
the boy can be put to rest.”

Larson was honored by the village of Maywood at its regularly scheduled
village board meeting, held Tuesday.  “I did speak to Mr. Larson and
congratulated him and spoke with him for his efforts,” he said.

Curry said while he welcomed volunteers at the searches, he didn’t
specifically ask for volunteers, due in part to liability concerns, and also
because he wanted experts in the search-and-rescue field to conduct the
search, such as the Illinois Search and Rescue Council.  “We did ask the
Council to assist,” he said. “They brought numerous people out, and the
Cook County Sheriff’s (Department) came out and did a search.

“At one point two weeks ago, we weren’t too far off (finding the body),” he
added. “We went to Ogden and First (Avenue). Due to a certain bend in
river, it looked interesting, but the water was still high. That was a little bit
further south of where Mr. Larson found the body.”

After Larson located the body, Curry said personnel from the Cook
County Sheriff’s Department office went into the river and retrieved the
body.  “It [the body] was wedged onto a tree branch,” he said. “I was able
to observe the hand skeletal, and the face was decomposed, but it was
consistent with the description of Bryeon Hunter.”

Rev. Jacques A. Conway, pastor of the Maywood Neighborhood United
Methodist Church who led a candlelight vigil at the Maywood Police
Department for Bryeon late last month, said he was elated that body
believed to be that of Bryeon was found by Larson.

“Prayers were answered; that’s what we prayed for,” said Conway, a
retired Oak Park police officer. “He was abandoned originally by his
offenders, but he wouldn’t be abandoned a second time. He (Larson) did
a yeoman’s job. His diligence, his compassion, he didn’t give up. He went
beyond the call of duty; this guy stayed on course. It’s outstanding.  Now
the child will have an opportunity to be properly buried.”

DCFS INVESIGATION


Dave Clarkin, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and
Family Services (DCFS), said a call was placed to the DCFS child abuse
hotline concerning Bryeon Hunter on April 18—around the time Lakeshia
Baker, who’s been charged with the boy’s murder, along with her
boyfriend, Michael Scott, had told police she had been beaten by three
men who then kidnapped Bryeon.  Baker later confessed to authorities
that the story of Bryeon being kidnapped was false.

Clarkin said a DCFS investigation, completed May 9, indicated that, in
Bryeon’s case, there was death by abuse. DCFS also indicated the
mother and her boyfriend both abused and neglected the victim’s
sibling.   DCFS took protective custody of Bryeon’s sibling on April 19.
That child has since been placed with a licensed foster family, Clarkin
said.

The April 18 call to DCFS was the first time the organization had be
notified of Bryeon’s situation. Clarkin said DCFS had had no previous
contact with Bryeon’s family.
“That is why we urge all members of the public to report suspected abuse
and neglect when they first see the signs,” Clarkin said. “Too often, the
department hears that friends, neighbors or family members suspect that
a child was being abused or neglected, but never called.”

The DCFS child abuse hotline is: 1-800-252-2873.

COURT HEARING FOR DEFENDANTS

Baker and Scott appeared in court on May 15 at the Maywood
Courthouse. They appeared in court wearing yellow jump suits, CBS
Channel 2’s Susanna Song reported. However, Song noted that their
hearing lasted only a few minutes because their attorneys were not able
to attend.

The hearing was attended by Brenda Lloyd, Baker’s mother and Bryeon’s
grandmother, as well as by Scott’s family. Lloyd also went to the Cook
County medical examiner’s office to identify the boy’s body last week.

She told Channel 2 her daughter is innocent, and alleges that Scott
murdered the child.  

“The boyfriend did it, and I know he did it,” Lloyd said. “His family knows
he did it. My daughter didn’t do that. She wouldn’t kill her baby. That’s my
child and I’m going to believe my child and I’m going to stand by my
child.”