Good morning, Chicago.

Five years ago Monday, 17-month-old Sema’j Crosby was reported missing from her Joliet Township home. A frantic search ensued with police, FBI agents and hundreds of volunteers before her lifeless body was discovered wedged underneath a couch inside her home. The Will County coroner’s office later ruled the death a homicide by asphyxia.

The case, which ignited outrage at the state’s child welfare system and prompted officials to pledge reforms, remains unsolved. And some experts say problems at the state Department of Children and Family Services have only worsened over the past five years.

“There is no doubt in my mind,” a Will County sheriff’s official said, “that more than one person knows what happened.”

A memorial tree — in the front yard where the house at 309 Louis Road once stood — remains the last vestige of Semaj at the scene, commemorating her short life.

— Angie Leventis Lourgos, Madeline Buckley

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Chicago’s downtown almost looks normal some days, especially during the middle of the week when office workers pack themselves onto trains and the streets bustle with pedestrians. But downtown restaurant owners say they see something different when tallying weekly sales.

Even the busiest lunch hours rarely hit pre-pandemic levels, and Mondays and Fridays are even worse. And with many downtown firms planning to bring back their employees for just two or three days a week, restaurants could permanently lose several days of lunchtime business.

It may be some time before people can walk through Illinois hospitals, doctors’ offices and nursing homes barefaced, despite mask mandates dropping on buses, planes and trains last week.

The state still requires masks in hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers, physician offices, dental offices and outpatient care centers, in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the state health department.

A growing number of people have turned to food pantries in recent months as grocery prices skyrocket amid rising inflation. Food pantries across Chicago said they are seeing increased demand as dollars don’t stretch as far at the supermarket and people feel the pinch on the price of everything from household goods to gas.

Pastor Sandra Gillespie, who runs a food pantry at the Chosen Tabernacle church in Englewood, said she’s seen demand surge, particularly among seniors.

“I am literally talking to seniors who have to make a decision: am I going to buy my medicine or am I going to buy some food?” Gillespie said.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points Sunday at the United Center as the Milwaukee Bucks waltzed to a 119-95 victory and took a 3-1 series lead over the Chicago Bulls.

After dropping back-to-back blowout losses on their home court, the Bulls face elimination as they struggle to return the confidence delivered by their Game 2 win.

If you’ve ever made or received funeral potatoes, you probably know it’s not just a casserole dish of the greater Midwest and other outposts of American culture, but occasionally an expression of overwhelming emotions where they’re traditionally kept suppressed.

Ope.

In Chicago, Tribune critic Louisa Chu writes, Funeral Potatoes is a virtual restaurant redefining not just modern Midwestern food, but the thematic restaurant experience perhaps best known at finer dining establishments with far greater resources and critical acclaim.



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