Body of missing Wheeling 1-year-old found in Indiana

  • Ja'nya Murphy, left, and her daughter Jaclyn "Angel" Dobbs

    Ja'nya Murphy, left, and her daughter Jaclyn "Angel" Dobbs Courtesy of Wheeling Police Department

  • Jaclyn "Angel" Dobbs

    Jaclyn "Angel" Dobbs Courtesy of Wheeling Police Department

  • Police continue to investigate the killing of a 21-year-old woman in an apartment on Inland Drive in Wheeling, and the kidnapping and killing of her 1-year-old daughter

    Police continue to investigate the killing of a 21-year-old woman in an apartment on Inland Drive in Wheeling, and the kidnapping and killing of her 1-year-old daughter Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/11/2021 10:20 PM

Indiana State Police confirmed Thursday night that the body of a 1-year-old girl who's been missing since her mother was found dead Tuesday night in Wheeling was pulled out of a pond near Hammond.

The state police said the Lake County, Indiana, coroner identified the body as that of Jaclyn "Angel" Dobbs. They said in a brief statement that the investigation into the cause of death continues, and an autopsy has been scheduled for Friday morning.

 

Wheeling police earlier Thursday dispatched a team to the pond after Indiana State Police said construction workers spotted and recovered a girl's body in the retention pond near an exit ramp at the interchange of I-80 and Kennedy Avenue.

Wheeling police also earlier in the day said they have located a person of interest in the abduction of the girl and killing of her mother, 21-year-old Ja'nya Murphy.

The man, who had been in a relationship with Murphy, was found in Missouri along with the 2020 Dodge Grand Caravan in which police believe Jaclyn had been riding at some point since Tuesday, Wheeling Deputy Police Chief Al Steffen said Thursday.

"We know for a fact he was in the far Northern suburbs yesterday morning and then by yesterday evening, he was in western Missouri," Steffen said. "We are looking to re-create the track from where he was in the Northwest suburbs to Missouri."

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The Cook County medical examiner's office reported Thursday that Murphy died from asphyxiation and strangulation, and ruled her death a homicide.

The person of interest is not the father of the girl, nor was he someone who lived with the mother and daughter, Steffen said.

Officers conducting a well-being check at the request of Murphy's family late Tuesday night found her dead in her apartment on Inland Drive.

While police initially declined to say how investigators believe Murphy died, they said evidence at the scene made clear that there was an assault. Steffen said he believes the case will be built on forensic evidence.

Murphy's family members filed a missing persons report at 10:22 p.m. Tuesday after becoming concerned that she hadn't shown up at her job at a store and hadn't been in contact with relatives since Monday night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Murphy grew up in Lincolnshire and was a 2018 graduate of Stevenson High School.

Her high school best friend told ABC 7 Chicago he was shocked when he read about what happened.

"It was mind blowing to me to read the first article; I didn't want to believe it. I still can't believe it," Brentley Wright said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Wheeling Police Department at (847) 459-2632, or call 911.

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