SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The death of a South Bend woman who was found after being missing for a week with her 5-month-old son is now being treated as a homicide.

The timeline

On April 12, 27-year-old Alexis Morales and her son infant son Messiah Morales were last seen in an SUV leaving Kelly Park. The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office began looking into their disappearance the next day.

A Silver Alert was issued on April 18 after the South Bend Police Department was approached by family members.

Around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19, the SUV the two were last seen in was found in an alley behind a house. The car was found less than four miles from Kelly Park.

South Bend police say Alexis and Messiah were inside the SUV. Alexis was declared deceased at the scene., while Messiah was alive and taken to the hospital.

On Wednesday, police confirmed Alexis’ death will be investigated as a homicide.

“This is taking a toll – physical and psychological toll – on our officers and our detectives,” said South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski. “I know people will say that’s what we’re paid to do and it’s our job, but we’re human beings. And we [will] experience and live the rest of our days with images we can’t get out of our heads.”

Messiah Morales is still at the hospital as of Thursday morning. Police say he is “stable” and with family.

Social media rumors

South Bend police say there’s been “chatter” on social media that police were aware of the vehicle’s location before it was found in the alley.

“That’s absolutely false. Where that information came from — I don’t know,” said Ruszkowski.

Why wasn’t Silver Alert issued sooner?

South Bend police say Indiana State Police handle Silver and Amber alerts, and specific criteria must be met for them to be issued.

“We do not issue those. Elkhart County does not issue those,” said Chief Ruszkowski. “I can’t speak on Elkhart County’s behalf. You’re going to have to ask them and Indiana State Police about why or if there was a delay or if it was just part of the actual process.”

What’s next?

An autopsy for Alexis Morales has been scheduled for Friday.

Meanwhile, SBPD’s Violent Crimes Unit is in the process of interviewing witnesses.

“Somebody knows,” said Chief Ruszkowski. “Absolutely 100%. Somebody knows. Matter of fact I would bet my life that more than one person knows what happened.”

If someone is concerned about contacting police regarding this case, they can contact Michiana Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 574-288-STOP.