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BPD: Woman arrested on child endangerment charges, but baby still missing

Police in Bloomington said seven month old Zaraz V. Walker was reported missing Sunday evening.
Bloomington Police Department
Police in Bloomington said 7-month-old Zaraz V. Walker was reported missing Sunday evening.

Bloomington Police said Tuesday the case that led to the search for a missing 7-month-old girl started with a retail theft arrest.

Kimberlee Burton, 29, was taken into custody at a store on Market Street midday Saturday. Officers say two children ages 5 and 6 were home alone at the time. The children's grandmother picked them up and late Saturday night someone called and alerted police about a third child who had been living with Burton — the missing 7-month-old girl, Zaraz Walker.

A search found evidence that the infant had been living in the residence. A neighborhood canvass in the area of the 300 block of East Wood Street turned up nothing. Officers say the father of Zaraz may have lived in Illinois or Florida. They've called different areas and police departments where the father may be contacted. So far, no result.

Bloomington Police Chief Jamal Simington said he believes "Zaraz was last seen five to seven days ago, and could be anywhere." Police continue to ask for public help in the case.

Kimberlee Burton now faces more charges of felony child endangerment, police said Tuesday.

"We're not ruling out the possibility that some person may have the baby and taken care of her and hasn't reached out to the police, or doesn't know who to reach out to," Bloomington Police spokesperson John Fermon said on Monday.

Police aren't saying who reported the child missing Sunday night.

"Maybe you were at a gas station a couple days ago and you saw a 7-month-old juvenile baby or infant and thought something was off. Give us a call. We're just really looking for any tips," said Fermon, adding police also are asking other agencies if someone has found an unidentified child.

Fermon said a child that young complicates a search. "A 7-month-old, some can talk, but they're not really mobile. They can't self-identify. It's just a hard situation," he said.

The infant has black hair and brown eyes, said police.

Any person who has had any recent contact with Kimberlee Burton OR Zaraz Walker is asked to contact the Bloomington Police Department's Sgt. Detective Jared Bierbaum at (309) 434-2807 or jbierbaum@cityblm.org.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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