The mother of the Georgia toddler reported missing early last month has been charged with his murder after human remains were found in a Chatham County landfill.
What’s the latest?
The Chatham County Police Department announced on Monday that 22-year-old Leilani Simon had been arrested and charged with malice murder in connection with the disappearance and death of her 1-year-old son, Quinton Simon.
The suspect, also charged with concealing the death of an individual, false reporting, and making false statements, was taken into custody and transported to the Chatham County Detention Center.
The CCPD does not anticipate any other arrests in connection with this case, noting that with Simon’s arrest, “We are one step closer to justice for little Quinton,” who was first reported missing from his home in Savannah, Georgia, on Oct. 5.
The New York Post reported that the boy had last been seen at the Savannah home the suspect shared with her boyfriend, Danny Youngkin, her 3-year-old son, and her mother, 45-year-old Billie Jo Howell. Howell had custody of both children.
The victim’s babysitter, Diana McCarta, told WSAV that she had been caring for Quinton and 3-year-old Zayne for six months.
McCarta was supposed to babysit the boys the morning Quinton went missing, but “got a text … saying they would not be here, would not be babysitting them at 5:39 [a.m.] Which was kind of odd because I have them even when she doesn’t work.”
McCarta told WSAV that she received a text at 9 a.m. asking whether she had seen the boy. The babysitter immediately went to the Simon house.
“I try to help them look; they didn’t want that,” said McCarta. “So I’ve been just waiting around like everyone else.”
Although “not his mother,” McCarta emphasized that she loved the boy “very much.”
On Oct. 12, the CCPD said in a statement, “We are saddened to report that CCPD and the FBI have notified Quinton Simon’s family that we believe he is deceased. We have named his mother, Leilani Simon, as the prime suspect in his disappearance and death.”
Lives thrown away
The day Leilani Simon was named the prime suspect, Child Protective Services removed her two other children.
Court documents obtained by the Sun alleged that Simon “is a chronic, unrehabilitated substance abuser of cocaine and cannabis” who tested positive for cocaine at the birth of one of her children.
The victim’s grandmother, Howell, suggested that the toddler had drowned in a bathtub because the suspect and her boyfriend were passed out on drugs.
TheDailyMail.com obtained audio of an 11-minute phone call between Howell and the victim’s biological father, Henry “Bubba” Moss.
In the call, Howell can be heard saying, “I feel, honestly and frankly, Bubba, I’m not going to lie to you, I feel like there was an accident. … I feel like something happened while Quinton was in the bathtub, and he drowned, and they were both high. That’s my theory.”
The boy’s father said, “Hell, they should have just called the police if something like that happened.”
According to WSAV, Leilani allegedly told police that Moss had taken the child — a claim police quickly dismissed.
After determining that the boy’s father hadn’t taken him, the FBI and local police mounted a significant search effort, employing a drone, two helicopters, police on horses, and tracking dogs. For weeks, they searched through dumpsters, drains, and woods.
While law enforcement officials continued their “massive … painstaking” search, the suspect, whose three children were sired by three different fathers, reportedly went out on the town, flirting and drinking at a popular Tybee Island bar.
One month later, police found remains at a waste management landfill located in Chatham County. WASV reported that on Nov. 18, law enforcement officials sent the remains off for testing.
According to CCPD Chief Jeff Hadley, “the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia confirmed that they are, in fact, human remains.”
The CCPD has a “high level of confidence those are Quinton’s remains.”
Hadley could not comment on whether the boy was dead before first reaching the landfill.
Hadley was visibly upset when announcing Leilani Simon’s arrest and the little boy’s fate, saying, the suspect “doesn’t deserve a Thanksgiving.”
“When we first received the call that Quinton was missing, we were hopeful that we would find him alive and unharmed,” said Hadley. “But as we have been telling you for weeks, all of our evidence pointed to his mother being responsible for his death and disappearance, and his remains being found in a landfill.”
Although Quinton is dead, Hadley underscored that at least the little boy will now have a proper place of rest.
Leilani Simon arrested for the murder of Quinton Simon