Wheel police were called to a puddle off I-80 near Kennedy Avenue in Hammond, Indiana, and Indiana State Police and Coroner Lake County were also at the scene.
Indiana State Police said the body of a black girl was discovered around 12 p.m. after construction workers noticed the body floating in a pond and called 911.
Police said the child appeared to be no more than five years old. Police said the child’s identity will be revealed by the Lake County Coroner office, which is also expected to perform an autopsy.
The grim discovery is revealed as the search continues for Jacqueline “Angel” Dobbs, who was reported missing after her mother was found dead in her Welling apartment on Tuesday night.
Police, who carried out a health check on a 300 block apartment on Inland Drive Tuesday night, found a dead woman and her one-year-old daughter missing.
Ja’nya Murphy, 21, was discovered unresponsive around 10:20 p.m. on Tuesday after officers climbed a balcony and entered her apartment, according to Deputy Sheriff Al Stephen.
Stephen said Murphy was apparently killed, and her daughter, whom they named “Angel,” was not home.
The Cook County Medical Examiner said Thursday that Murphy died of asphyxiation. She was sentenced to death.
Stephen said it looks like Murphy was assaulted, and they are excited to find her daughter. Police said the owners were believed to be in danger.
“We need the public’s help with this,” Stephen said. “They might be able to connect the dots, connect a link we don’t have right now.”
Wheeling Police and Illinois State Police activated an endangered missing persons alert early Thursday morning after a vehicle believed to have turned up in Missouri Wednesday without it.
Authorities believed the child was in a rented 2020 Maroon Dodge Caravan with Illinois plates.
Investigators have also identified a significant person linked to Dodge Caravan, who had a previous relationship with Murphy and was seen with her in a video on Monday.
Police said that person was also found in Missouri.
“We know for a fact that he was in the far northern suburbs yesterday morning and then by yesterday evening he was in western Missouri,” Stephen said. “We’re looking to recreate the path from where it was in the northwest suburbs to Missouri.”
Wheeling Police said Murphy graduated in 2018 from Stephenson High School and lived with her daughter in an apartment block.
Murphy’s best friend in high school said he was shocked to read about what had happened.
“It was so amazing to me to read the first article; I didn’t want to believe it. I still can’t,” said Brentley Wright. “There is no way, there is no way this is possible; there is no way this is happening. It’s crazy to think, one, that it’s happening so soon, and two, I was like best friends in high school.”
The Major Case Assistance Team has been called in to help collect and process evidence.
Stephen said police went to the building after Murphy took a layoff on Tuesday and his relatives have not seen him since Monday. With the help of the fire department, officers climbed onto Murphy’s balcony, found the door open and discovered her body inside.
Stephen said Murphy would deliver Angel to her relatives before work, but she did not deliver the baby on Tuesday, nor did she show up at her retail job. The last time the Murphy family spoke to her was on Monday.
Dobbs is described as being 2 feet tall and weighing 24 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information should contact Wheeling Police at (847) 459-2632 or 911.
The Sun Times MediaWire contributed to this report.
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