‘She does not live. Stop talking about my child,” the mother told the court
The Department of Children and Family Services investigated an Illinois woman several times before her 7-month-old daughter disappeared and died, according to reports.
On February 14, 29-year-old Kimberlee Burton was charged with felony child endangerment for leaving her two other children unattended two days earlier while arrested for retail theft. A day after her arrest, the children’s grandmother contacted authorities to inquire about the whereabouts of Burton’s baby girl, Zaraz Walker, as she could not find who was looking after her.
The father of Burton’s two eldest children, ages 5 and 6, picked them up when he was arrested on February 12. Officers apparently did not observe any other children at the home.
Bloomington police said they believe Walker was missing a week before he disappeared. Last week, Burton was accused of covering up her daughter’s death as authorities alleged Burton’s comments to them and the family suggested the baby had died, according to The Pantagraph.
While behind bars, Burton allegedly told a family member that Walker died sleeping between her legs. She claimed to have buried her in a cemetery near her home, prosecutors said. Walker is still missing.
On Monday, the Department of Children and Family Services confirmed to the Pantagraph that it investigated Burton three times prior to Walker’s disappearance. Agency spokesman Bill McCaffrey said two reports filed in September 2020 and July 2021 were deemed unsubstantiated.
DCFS’ first investigation came after Burton was accused of leaving her children with a relative and not returning. The case was dismissed after the discovery of Burton and his children.
McCaffrey told the Pantagraph that Burton was also reported to the agency after giving birth to Walker in July 2021. Medical staff who filed a ‘risk of harm’ report claimed Burton was behaving ‘erratically’ .
DCFS’ third investigation, which began in May 2021, involved allegations of abuse involving Burton’s 10-year-old daughter. That investigation – which was closed after Walker’s disappearance – uncovered evidence of abuse. However, DCFS did not order Burton to lose custody of his daughter, who is now 11. This child currently lives with her father, according to The Pantagraph.
McCaffrey told the outlet that Burton would have lost custody of all of his children if the May 2021 inquest resulted in him losing custody of his 11-year-old daughter.
During last week’s hearing, Burton interrupted a prosecutor to explain what had happened to his missing daughter. Burton, who remains jailed on $25,000 bail, is due back in court on March 18.
“My baby died,” she said, according to The Pantagraph.
“She does not live. Stop talking about my child. She died. It was very clearly told to you that my baby died.
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[Featured image: Zaraz Walker, Kimberlee Burton/Bloomington Police Department]