Body of Illinois boy found in trash can was partially burned: Court transcript

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The body of a 10-year-old boy discovered in a garbage can was partially burned, according to Rock Island County Court transcripts obtained Tuesday by Our Quad Cities News.

The 38-year-old mother of a 10-year-old boy whose body was found in a garbage can pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to a felony charge. Sushi Staples, of Rock Island, appeared in Rock Island County Court, where she pleaded guilty to, and was found guilty of, a felony charge of endangering the life or health of a child, according to court records.

Court transcripts of Staples’ Jan. 4 appearance show that State’s Attorney Dora Villareal testified that day that Rock Island Police received a call from a woman in Florida stating that Staples, also known as “Sushi Pikes,” “had a young son who had died in December of 2022, and that Staples had concealed and possibly burned the body in a barrel” inside her Rock Island home.

Rock Island Police Detective John Shappard spoke with Staples, who “denied ever having a son and stated she only had four daughters who were at home,” transcripts say.

Shappard was able to locate a Department of Children & Family Services report out of Chicago indicating that Staples had a son, and “she had also been receiving Public Aid benefits” for him up until the July 25 date, transcripts show.

Transcripts say a birth certificate for Zion Staples also was located. “Ms. Staples was presented with the birth certificate and claimed initially that she purchased it fraudulently and was using it to receive illegal government benefits.”

A search warrant was obtained and investigators found a bedroom that appear to belong to a young boy, “and in a separate bedroom flooring that appeared to be replaced,” the transcripts say.”Dryer sheets and air fresheners were located throughout the home, including in the vents and in the garage,” according to the transcript.

The transcripts show “A large sealed galvanized garbage can was also located in the garage. When investigators opened the lid they found the decomposed and partially burned body” of Zion.

Staples then admitted that the body was her son who had died in December of 2022, “and that she had been keeping him there until she could afford a funeral,” according to transcripts.

“The State has forwarded this investigation to the Attorney General for possible investigation into the welfare benefits that had been claimed for (Zion) after his death,” the transcripts say.

The death later was determined to be a gunshot wound of an accidental nature, according to court documents and testimony.

According to the transcripts, Hany Khoury, Staples’ attorney, said the State “also produced discovery which would indicate that the State may present evidence at trial that there was a firearm in her bedroom, that she left to take care of some business-related activities, and returned to find her child deceased.”

Khoury said Staples has no prior felonies. Staples said she understood she is pleading guilty to a Class 3 felony and that will prohibit her from ever having a gun or ammunition, and could affect her ability to obtain certain housing, employment, or loans, according to the transcript.

A body is discovered in July of 2023

In July of 2023, the body of a 10-year-old boy was found in a garbage can, police confirmed earlier.

Earlier Shappard testified in court that Staples told him “her ex-husband was harassing her and that’s most likely where this (accusation) was coming from.” Later, Shappard said, Staples said she paid someone $500 to make a Social Security card and birth certificate so she could claim benefits.

“She said several times she did not have a son,” Shappard testified.

Finally, two of Staples’ other four children said Zion was playing with a handgun and accidentally shot himself.

Eventually Staples said she had moved Zion’s body, which was discovered in the garbage can. She moved him from the basement to the garage about two months prior to July “because she didn’t want her other four children to locate him in the basement,” Shappard said.

“In every vent of the house, there was dryer sheets,” Shappard testified.

He said an autopsy revealed Zion died from a gunshot wound, and that his death was accidental.

The Class 3 felony carries a possible penalty of two to 10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections with six months of mandatory supervised release and up to a $25,000 fine. Instead of going to prison, Staples could be sentenced to up to 30 months of probation or conditional discharge, six months of which could be in Rock Island County Jail, transcripts show.

Staples is set for sentencing Feb. 16 in Rock Island County Court.


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