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Body found in river by local
volunteer believed to be
1-year-old boy

By MIKE SANDROLINI

MAYWOOD | Maywood Police on Tuesday recovered the body of a child believed to be
Bryeon Hunter, the 1-year-old boy whom Cook County prosecutors said was beaten
to death by his mother and her boyfriend last month and dumped into the Des
Plaines River.

A Chicago Tribune report stated that the body was pulled from the river by Maywood
police and was “significantly decomposed,” according to Maywood Police Chief Tim
Curry.

“They pulled a small body of a child that fits the size and description of Bryeon
Hunter,” Curry told the Tribune. The child’s remains, Curry said, were transported to
the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

In the Tribune story, Curry said the body was located by a Westchester man, Robert
Larson, who has been volunteering to search for the body almost daily ever since the
boy had been reported missing on April 17. Larson told the Tribune he had been
kayaking on the river just north of 31st Street when he smelled a foul odor and
“noticed the body of a baby boy face up” in a pile of logs along the river’s west bank.
He didn’t attempt to move the body, and instead went to shore and notified police by
calling 911.

“Today, through the work of a lot of people, and a volunteer in particular who was out
in a kayak today (Tuesday), was able to come across the remains of a very young
boy,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart told CBS 2 Chicago. “We were called in, and with
conjunction with a lot of other departments, we made the recovery today and it’s very
consistent with the remains of the little boy who was missing.”   A formal
identification of the body was to have taken place on Wednesday, Dart said.   

Tuesday’s developments end a nearly month-long search for the body of the toddler,
whose mother, Maywood resident Lakeshia Baker, originally told authorities she had
been beaten by three men who then kidnapped Bryeon—prompting an AMBER Alert,
media coverage and a police search for him.

A few days later, the 22-year-old Baker and her boyfriend, Michael Scott, were in
Leighton Criminal Courthouse facing charges that they had murdered Bryeon.

Assistant State’s Attorney Melissa Samp said during the hearing, held on April 20,
that Baker and Scott confessed to the crime to investigators.       Prosecutors said
that Baker admitted to authorities she beat her son in the bathroom at home with a
belt on Monday, April 15. Meanwhile, Scott put his hand over the child’s mouth so
Bryeon’s grandmother, who lived in an apartment in the same building, wouldn’t hear
the baby cry or scream.

Prosecutors said Baker would sit Bryeon on the toilet for hours and beat him with a
belt for discipline and potty training purposes, according to a Chicago Sun-Times
story.

 “We don’t know how long the baby had been beaten, but clearly, based on what we
were told, the child had been beaten continuously,” said Anita Alvarez, Cook County
state’s attorney, following the hearing. “I think it’s horrific. We’re talking about a 20-
month-old child to be continuously beaten and left on the toilet. You can just imagine
what this child has gone through.”

The following morning, Bryeon was lying on the bathroom floor and not moving, but
was moaning and struggling to breathe, prosecutors said in the Tribune story. The
child eventually died.  According to prosecutors, Baker and Scott devised a plan to
dump the child’s body into the Des Plaines River and concoct a story that the toddler
had been kidnapped.

That afternoon, Scott called 911 to report Bryeon had been abducted. Prosecutors in
the Tribune story said Baker told police (who came over to her home after the
reported abduction) that she and her son were walking to a McDonald’s restaurant
when they were kidnapped by three Hispanic men, who put the two into their car. After
that, she told police the men took her out of the car and beat her up, then let her go
and kept the child.

Baker ended up going to the Loyola University Medical Center in order to be treated
for facial injuries that included two black eyes. While there, prosecutors said in the
Tribune that she provided authorities with descriptions of the men and identified
them from a book of mug shots.
But Maywood Police cleared the three men and concluded that Baker’s account of the
events was not accurate.
 
Prosecutors said Baker eventually admitted the story was false. She also admitted
that her black eyes, which she first claimed were from her attackers, were the result
of her being beaten by Scott, prosecutors said.