Police chief turns down dog trainer’s offer to search for missing infant
By Judy Masterson firstname.lastname@example.org September 3, 2013 9:29PM
Robert Larson, owner of K-9 Specialities, with son, Daniel, 7, and cadaver dog Capt. Dexter, outside Zion City Hall.| Judy Masterson/Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 4, 2013 2:33AM
How long should Zion police search for an infant who was allegedly suffocated then tossed out with the garbage?
“As long as it takes,” said Robert Larson, of K-9 Specialities.
Larson, 48, of suburban Westchester, owns trained cadaver dogs and has made successful searches for the bodies of the missing. He has volunteered to search the Zion landfill where 5-month-old Joshua Summeries is likely buried under tons of rotting garbage. But Zion Police Chief Wayne Brooks, who called off a four-day search of a section of Advanced Disposal Landfill, 701 Green Bay Road, on Aug. 25, has declined the offer.
The two men had their say before the Zion City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 3, two weeks after baby Joshua was reported missing by his mother, Kisha Summeries, whose boyfriend, Demetries Thorpe, 26, has been charged with murder.
Thorpe allegedly told police that he placed his hand over Joshua’s mouth in an attempt to stop him from crying, After the baby stopped breathing, he threw him into a garbage can and told Summeries the infant had been kidnapped. When Summeries, asked why Thorpe hadn’t called 911, he allegedly retrieved the backpack containing the infant’s body from the garbage can and threw it in a Dumpster as a waste-hauling truck approached.
Video surveillance would appear to back up that portion of Thorpe’s story, according to state’s Attorney Mike Nerheim.
Brooks told council members that calling off the search was one of the most difficult decisions of his 30-year career in law enforcement. He cited an “exhaustive” recovery effort at the landfill, where 1,700 tons of refuse is dumped each day, by multiple law enforcement officers, national guardsmen and cadaver dogs. The search involved removal of compacted refuse with heavy equipment then hand-raking of smaller piles.
“The search took an emotional toll on even the most seasoned professionals, who did everything humanly possible to find Joshua,” said Brooks, who called the baby’s death a “heinous homicide.”
But Larson and local activist Clyde McLemore, pressed the city to resume the search.
“I appreciate the effort but it wasn’t enough,” Larson said. “You guys gave up. I don’t give up.”
Larson and his dogs combed the banks of the Des Plaines River for 30 days last spring before finding the body of 20-month-old Bryeon Hunter, a Maywood boy allegedly killed by his mother and her boyfriend. He has found others.
The cadaver dog trainer told the council that Chief Brooks turned down his offer to search for Joshua because it would bring unwanted media attention.
“If that was your child, would you turn me away and say no?” Larson asked Brooks.
“Should Zion Landfill be the final resting place for Joshua Summeries?” McLemore asked council members. McLemore said the victim’s mother is not satisfied with the search effort.
Contacted by phone the day of the council session, Kisha Summeries declined comment.
Brooks said that he had spoken with Kisha Summeries and that she, “law enforcement professionals and the Zion community as a whole seeks closure.”
“Any measures to give Ms. Summeries false hope are simply cruel,” Brooks said.
Larson countered after the meeting that not finding Joshua was cruel.
“How do you give up on something like this?” Larson asked. “Joshua’s mother has to look at that dump every day, knowing her child is still in that pile.”