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‘Complex case’ of two North Chicago kids dead within months

Waukegan 9/17/12
 ShatorriMiller shows one remaining photos she has her 6-month-old daughter Desire Thompsbefore her death December 28th. Her death

Waukegan 9/17/12 Shatorria Miller shows one of the remaining photos she has of her 6-month-old daughter Desire Thompson before her death on December 28th. Her death is under investigation by Lake County Major Crimes Taskforce and the Lake County Coroner's Office. Those bodies are also investigating the death in May of Desire's half-brother Ty'quan Thompson 3.| Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 19, 2012 1:35AM

NORTH CHICAGO — Desire Thompson was a happy baby girl, a 6-month-old who was just learning to sit-up on her own when she died suddenly in the basement soup kitchen of a Waukegan homeless shelter.

That was Dec. 28, 2011. In mid-May, Desire’s half-brother, Ty’quan Thompson, 3, also died suddenly and inexplicably, reportedly while napping on a blanket in the same North Chicago home where Desire had lived until a week before she died.

Investigation into both deaths has been turned over by the North Chicago Police Department to the Lake County Major Crime Taskforce and the Lake County Coroner’s Office.

“It’s a complex case,” said North Chicago Interim Police Chief James Jackson, who said that upon learning the connection between the two deaths, “We were concerned. We were extremely concerned.

“We’d like to get some resolution,” Jackson said. “It’s difficult dealing with children and there’s certain evidence we’ve submitted and (we’re) waiting for analysis to come back.”

There were five children, including Desire, and two adults — Shatorria Miller, 21, Desire’s mother, and Valencia Thompson, 28, Desire’s aunt — present at the home in the 700 block of 18th Street on Dec. 20.

That’s the day Miller said she got out of the shower and found Desire sucking on a bottle that looked like the water she had filled it with earlier in the day, but that smelled like lighter fluid or perhaps gasoline.

“She was spitting up with the bottle in her mouth,” said Miller. “I was scared. I didn’t know what to do.”

Miller called 9-1-1 and Desire was taken by ambulance to Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan where, according to Miller, the baby’s vitals were checked, she was given a bottle of apple juice and sent home after having a bowel movement.

But in the week that followed, Miller, who had moved with her children into the year-round PADS shelter at 8th and Lincoln streets in Waukegan, said Desire grew listless, lost her appetite,and had diarrhea. She also noticed that the baby’s bottom “was burned.”

“It was raw and red,” Miller said. ”And the skin on her arms, legs, butt and privates was peeling.”

Miller, her children and her husband, Calvin Sutton-Thompson, have struggled with homelessness — at one point they lived in a relative’s abandoned home for two weeks, she said — and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services intervened after it was alerted to an incident of domestic violence between the pair in May 2011, according to Miller’s mother, Kasonya Miller, who moved from Waukegan to Georgia last year.

Sutton-Thompson, 25, was arrested Sept 13 and charged with the manufacture of a crack cocaine “lookalike” substance. He is sitting in Lake County Jail in lieu of a $750,000 bond.

The home where Miller and her children stayed just before Desire’s death belonged to Sutton-Thompson’s older sister and Valencia, another sister, also lived there, with an assortment of children belonging to the adult siblings. Valencia also has a criminal record, including two misdemeanor convictions in 2009, one for child endangerment and the other for battery.

Miller is fighting to regain custody of her three remaining children who were placed into foster care the night Desire died. She has taken court-ordered grief counseling and parenting classes. A hearing in family court on the matter is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 24.

“I love my kids,” said Miller, who has been questioned three times and claims she asked to take a lie detector test to prove her innocence in the matter. “I would never hurt them.”

Nine months after Desire’s death, no arrest has been made, no charges filed. Local law enforcement officials refuse to discuss the circumstances surrounding the deaths or reveal autopsy or toxicology findings for either Desire or Ty’quan, Sutton-Thompson’s child by another woman.

“A lot of other information has come to light,” Lake County Coroner Artis Yancey said. “We’ve uncovered some sinister actions on the part of some people. But the investigation has to be completed.

“We want to bring justice to these innocents.”

Staff Writer Beth Kramer contributed to this report

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