Semaj Crosby case: Family of murdered Joliet toddler awarded $6.4 million in civil lawsuit

The shocking homicide of Joliet toddler Semaj Crosby has never been solved.

Now, five years later, there is a settlement in the case but still no charges.

"It may be that Semaj Crosby's murder is still free and at large, and that’s very scary," said attorney Jay Paul Deratany.

After five years and still so many unanswered questions, lawyers representing Crosby’s estate settled a civil lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services subcontractors claiming negligence.

"They failed to do safety assessments as was required," Deratany said.


It was a 2017 tragedy that rocked the nation. The decomposed body of the 17-month-old was found underneath a couch in her family’s Joliet Township home.

Crosby’s death was ruled a homicide by smothering.

"I would never say there’s closure in this case. First of all, we still don’t know what happened in terms of who caused the death of Semaj Crosby," Deratany said.

Days after the grisly discovery, authorities say the home described as deplorable and filled with cockroaches was set on fire, therefore destroying any evidence left behind.

To date, no one has been arrested or charged.

"Unfortunately the Will County State's Attorney and the Will County Coroner's Office, none of them wanted to help in the civil case, none of them wanted to cooperate. They didn't want to give me the coroner’s report in full," Deratany said.

A $6.4-million settlement has now been awarded to Crosby’s four siblings and her father who was incarcerated at the time of her death.

"I do think the money will help them at age 18, but even beforehand if they don't have certain things. Like I said, maybe this affords them to go to a private school," Deratany said.

Illinois DCFS released the following statement on Friday:

"DCFS is always shaken by the loss of  a child. We work with vulnerable families every day and continue to improve our practice, whether it’s how we investigate and respond to these cases, how we oversee and use the private agencies we contract to provide services, and in how we collaborate with the communities we serve. Director Smith has made it clear that protecting vulnerable children is a top priority. Improvements in child welfare are never quick or easy. Many of the challenges we face are longstanding and entrenched, but everyone in this administration is deeply committed to overcoming them and providing the care that our vulnerable children and families truly deserve."