Missing Baby Boy Found Alive After Mother Found Dead, Possibly Murdered, Say Illinois Police

A baby boy was found alive and well on Thursday, March 24, 2016, after his mother was discovered dead in her Skokie, Illinois apartment, police say. The child, just 10 months old, was located at a nearby church following the discovery of his mother’s lifeless body by law enforcement doing a wellness check, reports the Chicago Tribune.

According to police, the body of the baby’s mother, Catherine Benyamin, 31, was discovered at around 10:25 a.m., following a request from her family to check up on her, the Chicago Tribune reports. After finding her, the search began for both her young child, Joshua Powell, and the baby’s father, Jermaine Powell.

ABC 7 Chicago reports that Catherine’s death is now under investigation. However, police have asserted the belief she was likely a victim of murder. Little baby Joshua was eventually located at a Chicago area church, where he was dropped off by someone who matched the description of his father, according to ABC 7 Chicago.

Police held a news conference on Thursday night to announce that Joshua had been found safe and is now at the University of Illinois Chicago Hospital under observation. At the news event, Officer Eric Swaback stated that it is believed that Joshua is “healthy and unharmed,” reports the Chicago Tribune. In addition, Officer Swaback noted that the baby boy is now in the care of a family member.

Officer Swaback also said it is believed Joshua’s father may have dropped him off at the church earlier Thursday and that law enforcement is “still seeking the whereabouts of Jermaine Powell,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Patch.com reports that witnesses at the church present when the baby arrived described the person dropping Joshua off as someone that matched Powell’s description.

ABC 7 Chicago reports that neighbors of the family are in shock and did not hear or notice anything strange or unusual taking place at the residence either Wednesday or Thursday. One neighbor, Claudette Haylett, told the news media outlet, “This is kind of surprising to me. This is really a very quiet neighborhood. No fuss, no fight, no anything.”

Another neighbor, Nicola Brown-Porter, told ABC 7 Chicago that Skokie is “a very good neighborhood,” and noted that what happened “is not the neighborhood for it.”

In general, Skokie, with a population of about 65,000, is safer than 31 percent of the cities in the United States, according to Neighborhood Scout. The website indicates that annually there are 170 violent crimes that take place in Skokie, while there are typically 1,360 property crimes in the city. Also, annually there are 2.61 violent crimes and 20.89 property crimes per 1,000 residents in Skokie. With regard to murder in particular, Neighborhood Scout indicates that, annually, about two homicides or.03 murders per 1,000 residents take place, which is almost identical to the national average. The website notes that an individual’s chances of becoming a victim of crime in Skokie are 1 in 48, which are the same odds for the entire state of Illinois.

The Chicago Tribune writes that police believe that Catherine’s death is an isolated incident, which has sparked an ongoing investigation. The North Regional Major Crimes Task Force is currently aiding the Skokie Police Department regarding the case.

According to ABC 7 Chicago, police have not yet released exactly how Catherine died. Patch.com reports that further information will become available after an autopsy is conducted by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Law enforcement is asking anyone who may have any information regarding the location or possible whereabouts of Jermaine Powell to contact the Skokie Police Department using 911 or at 847-982-5900. Additionally, information can also be given to authorities by calling the automated Crime Tip Hotline at 847-933-8477.

[Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images]