A new phase began as the mystery surrounding the disappearance of toddler Quinton Simon, whose body was thought to be in a landfill in Savannah, Georgia, led to his mother being charged with his murder.
Leilani Simon, 22, was accused of the homicide of the boy who was reported missing on 21 November. The FBI laboratory at Quantico confirmed that the discovered remains belonged to a human and they were located at the landfill on Friday.
The FBI and Chatham County police revealed that the prime suspect, the mother of the 20-month-old Quinton, had already been named. The search prompted the narrowing of an area, leading investigators to take the landfill and place a dumpster there.
After the FBI wrapped up their first day of searching the landfill, WSAV news station reported that staff with a “playful” demeanor were spotted drinking tequila at a bar in the neighboring Tybee Island.
On October 24, Ms. Simon made her first appearance in the media, hoping to find her son who she believed was “hiding”, and she seemed both joyful and vibrant.
The Chatham County Police Department released a statement reaffirming their dedication to locating the child’s body, after three weeks of searching for Quinton last month.
“The department stated that the investigative case team is actively working to gather all the evidence in order to establish the facts in this case. The process is expected to take some time.”
Here is a chronology of advancements in the inquiry.
The toddler went missing from his home in Savannah, a coastal city on the border between Chatham County in South Carolina and Georgia, on October 5.
Simon Leilani’s mother, filed a report for Quinton’s disappearance around 9.40am, as he was last spotted at around 6am on that particular day at a location on Buckhalter Road in the 500 block.
She told the police that her son was playing in a playpen when she saw Quinton, whom CNN had earlier reported wandering off, although reports had suggested otherwise.
Ms Simon informed 911 that she “believes someone entered and took him,” and indicated that the front entrance to the family residence was discovered unlocked, as stated in an emergency services dispatch call obtained by local media.
During the interview with WSAV, she mentioned that Quinton’s mother contacted the police around 9.40am to seek assistance in locating Quinton. Following this, she promptly went to the family’s residence to join in the search for Quinton. Prior to this, she had received a message at 9am inquiring about Quinton’s whereabouts, which prompted her immediate response to go to the family’s home. Diana McCarta, Quinton’s babysitter, also confirmed that she had received a similar message at 9am asking if she had any information about Quinton’s whereabouts.
Ms. McCarta said that the family didn’t want her help and she had been due to look after them the day after, but she was not told that he was seen last about half an hour before, at 5.30am.
He was dressed in a pale blue Sesame Street shirt and black trousers.
The grandparents expressed concern for the 20-month-old boy and said that his mother hasn’t always done the right thing, speaking to reporters only days after Quinton’s disappearance.
Billie Jo Howell informed ABC30 that there are instances when the person in question performs exceptionally well, while there are other instances when their performance is lacking. She is uncertain about whether she can rely on this individual or not. However, she unequivocally expresses her pain and desire to have her baby returned home, as he is her own child. The person in question’s performance is inconsistent, as sometimes they excel and other times they fall short.
Ms. Howell reportedly lived at the same address as her boyfriend’s daughter and her husband, Mr. Thomas, along with Simon and Quinton, according to WJCL’s report.
Nevertheless, this information has not been verified. Supposedly, Ms Howell attempted to evict her daughter and her boyfriend from the premises due to alleged “harm” and a deficiency of “harmony”, as per court records acquired by the media source.
The aforementioned records also mentioned that Quinton’s grandparents have guardianship of the child, as reported by WJCL.
Diana McCarta, who babysits two children, stated in an interview on October 11th that she had previously reported concerns to the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) regarding the family she works for at WSAV.
DFCS/DHS, the independent department, informed us that we are unable to comment on any specific cases of neglect or abuse, as we are bound by both federal and state laws to protect the privacy of the people we serve.
The Department continues to take every report seriously, ensuring the safety of Georgia’s children through appropriate collaboration with law enforcement.
Following Quinton and his sibling, the caregiver expressed her astonishment upon receiving a notification last week on Wednesday morning, stating that her services would not be required.
Ms McCarta, who expressed astonishment at the seemingly impromptu choice, remarked, “I received a text message this morning stating that they would not be present, would not be taking care of them at 5.29 [a.M.].”
She persisted: “Which was rather peculiar because I experience them even when she (their mother) is not employed”.
Ms. McCarta described her conversation with Quinton’s mother, stating, “Afterward, I received a message at 9am asking if I had seen Quinton. Without delay, I promptly went to their residence. They did not desire my assistance, but I still attempted to aid in the search. Consequently, I have been patiently waiting, just like everyone else.”
Police in Chatham County, Georgia, said they did not believe foul play was involved in Quinton’s disappearance and hoped that WJCL would report him missing. They initiated an early search for him.
Police stated that the evidence underwent analysis. On 11 October, the police made an announcement about the discovery of evidence “that we believe will assist in progressing this case”.
Authorities tweeted, “We understand that countless individuals worldwide will be devastated by this announcement, and we empathize with your grief.”
Officials held the initial press conference about the incident on October 13th, during which they reiterated their belief that Quinton is no longer alive.
The Senior Supervisor of the FBI, Agent Will Clarke, stated that we will continue to follow every lead and tip, gathering evidence at every opportunity. We are working alongside other law enforcement agencies to understand what happened here in Chatham County, and it deeply saddens our community.
Officials did not reveal the type of evidence indicating Quinton’s demise, or why Ms Simon is the primary person of interest.
An ongoing search is compelling the authorities to transfer a nearby landfill to a waste container, suspecting that the 20-month-old child was placed there by the local Georgia police and the FBI.
We are aware that this task of emotionally and mentally gruelling is ahead for our investigators and team, Chief Police County Chatham Jeff Hadley said in a press briefing on October 18.
During the press conference, Senior Supervisory FBI Agent Clarke Will said that we, along with our law enforcement partners, will process this with heavy hearts.
“We didn’t intend to reach this juncture. However, the evidence has brought us to this point,” he supplemented.
Mr Clarke stated that “this will not be speedy” and “it will not be simple, and the result is uncertain”.
“He stated, ‘As the head expressed, we desire fairness for Quinton, and we aim to locate a suitable final resting spot for him.’ Mr. Clarke further mentioned, ‘We have been tracking the proof, following its path, and the evidence has led us to this garbage dump.'”
Chief Hadley mentioned that he was unable to disclose the evidence that prompted the authorities to investigate the landfill.
In the meantime, Ms Simon and her mother were seen drinking drinks in a town near the place where the young child vanished three weeks ago.
In a bar on Tybee Island, Jo and Billie were seen drinking at Ray’s Sting. Ms. Simon, the prime suspect in the investigation, was first reported by WSAV, the local news station in Savannah, Georgia. The FBI searched a landfill in Savannah for Quinton’s body.
When contacted by The Independent, a team member stated: “They were present, they consumed beverages, they departed.”
Despite other customers voicing their upset, Ms. Howell and Ms. Simon stayed at the bar on October 18 for hours and the server at The Post in New York City told them that they downed “shots of tequila”. They were drinking in public in the middle of an investigation into Quinton’s likely death.
They were enjoying themselves immensely on the deck area, laughing and being loud, while taking shots of Patron. They were drawing attention to themselves, almost as if they didn’t have a single worry in the entire world, as shared by a server to the Post.
According to WJCL, three individuals were arrested over the weekend in Savannah, Chatham County, after protesters, who had been complaining, went to the home where Quinton disappeared on Friday night.
Boatwright John and Boatright Wanda, along with Garrett William, were subsequently charged after engaging in disorderly conduct. The protesters, who had blocked the driveway and returned later that night, were able to ignore the orders from officers and prevent someone from leaving.
The authorities did not specify whether Quinton’s mother or his grandmother were present at home during that period.
The Chatham County Police Department stated on Friday that the investigative team led by Quinton Simon will be conducting multiple interviews over the weekend and will also be analyzing the evidence they have already collected.
Leilani Simon, Quinton’s mother, ended her silence on Monday when she talked to the local news station WTOC.
Leilani Simon informed WTOC that she has been present and available every day since the incident occurred. She emphasized that she is not evading or concealing herself and expressed her willingness to voluntarily go to the police station if she is found to be at fault.
Since Simon disappeared, she claims she has been the victim of continuous intimidation.
In the ongoing interview with her, WTOC continued to ask about the current situation and how it affects us. She expressed the need to take precautions and secure our own homes in order to feel safe, even if we can’t fully comprehend what is happening around us. The difficulty of the situation makes it even more challenging for us to find a sense of security.
It is incredibly disheartening to witness how everything outside seems so destructive, and I am unable to go out there without encountering negligence and harassment. I can’t even go for a walk without being reminded of the gifts I had for him or appreciating my own son’s memorial.
Ms Simon, upon discovering her son in a state of joy and good health, expressed her optimism, despite the local authorities’ declaration on October 12th that Quinton is presumed deceased.
Remains toddler’s the finding to commitment its reiterating statement a issued Department Police County Chatham the for search the into weeks three.
We are committed to giving Quinton a thorough and detailed investigation, thanks to the expertise of the FBI, who were on the ground with us within three hours of Quinton being reported missing. We had the advantage of using every available technological and investigative tool. He deserves the professional investigation that he deserves.
As per the declaration, the investigation has engaged over 100 law enforcement and civilian staff members. The agency affirmed that they had not hesitated to spend money and put in considerable effort, emphasizing to the public that they did not anticipate the search to conclude swiftly.
The investigative team is diligently working to piece together every piece of evidence to determine the facts of the case, as stated in the added statement.
Authorities in Chatham County, Georgia, stated that Ms. Simon, 22, has been accused in connection with her son’s vanishing and purported homicide.
The Chatham County Police Department has apprehended Leilani Simon, a 22-year-old woman, and has pressed charges against her for the crime of murder in relation to the vanishing and demise of her 20-month-old son, Quinton Simon, as mentioned in a tweet by the authorities.
Simon Leilani was taken into custody a short time ago and is now being transported to Chatham County Detention Center, where she will await bond hearing.
It stated: “We do not expect any further apprehensions in relation to this matter.”
The FBI laboratory at Quantico, Virginia, confirmed the presence of human remains. These remains were found by investigators at the Southwest Chatham County landfill on November 18th, as announced during a news conference.