A Zion man faces 35 years in prison after he pleaded guilty Tuesday in Lake County court to suffocating his girlfriend's 5-month-old son.
The body of Joshua Summeries has never been recovered because Demetries Thorpe, 27, placed the body in a large trash container that was emptied into a garbage truck and taken to a nearby landfill, authorities have said.
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Thorpe could have been sentenced to life in prison had he been found guilty on 14 counts of killing the baby in the apartment they shared in the 23000 block of Galilee Avenue.
However, Thorpe pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder in front of Judge Daniel Shanes. In turn, prosecutors dropped 13 counts of first-degree murder and capped any possible prison sentence at 35 years.
"I feel this result brings us one step closer to justice for Joshua Summeries, his family and the community," Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim said. "This will ultimately help providing closure the family as well as the community deserves."
Thorpe is due to be sentenced to prison Sept. 2. Any sentence will be served by Thorpe at 100 percent.
Assistant State's Attorney Fred Day said Thorpe woke up Aug. 21 and went into the baby's room where the child was crying. There, he placed his hand over the baby's mouth to stop it from sobbing, Day said.
After the child died, police said, Thorpe placed the body in a backpack, dropped it out of a window, then discarded it into a garbage can in a nearby alley, authorities said.
Later, Thorpe returned to the garbage can, removed the backpack, and took it to a large trash container where a garbage truck was nearby, authorities said. He placed the backpack inside the container, then waited for the garbage truck to empty it, authorities said.
Thorpe initially told authorities the child had been kidnapped, but confessed to the killing after being interviewed by police.
Authorities and volunteers searched the landfill at 7021 Green Bay Road in Zion over two days, but did not recover Joshua's remains.
"Any murder case is difficult on the family of the victim and the community," Nerheim added. "Despite the long and tireless effort of the Zion Police Department, the Major Crimes Task Force and the Zion Landfill, Joshua Summeries could not be brought home."