Authorities in Georgia believe a 20-month-old boy who disappeared from his home about a week ago is dead, and the toddler’s mother is now a prime suspect in the case.
“We are saddened to report that CCPD and the FBI have notified Quinton Simon’s family that we believe he is deceased,” the Chatham County Police Department (CCPD) said on Twitter late Wednesday.
Leilani Simon, Quinton’s mother and the prime suspect in his disappearance and death, has not been arrested or charged in the case, police added.
“We know that thousands of people around the world will be heartbroken by this news, and we share your sorrow,” the department said.
Jeffrey Hadley, the police chief in Chatham County, will provide more details about the case at a news conference later on Thursday, officials said, adding that they won’t make any further statements, or answer any questions, until that time.
Quinton was reported missing by his mother in Savannah on Oct. 5. He was last seen in his home along Buckhalter Road wearing a light blue “Sesame Street” shirt and black pants.
The child’s disappearance prompted a massive multi-day search that included a team of search dogs and a helicopter with heat-seeking technology, Hadley told reporters on Oct. 6. A few dozen FBI agents also assisted local police with the case.
Some detectives worked 18 to 20-hour days in hopes of finding the boy alive.
“We’re going to hold out hope that he’s still alive, and that we can find him and bring him home safe to his parents,” Hadley said during a press briefing last week. “But, we’ll continue to look at all angles and exhaust all investigative avenues.”
“We’re going to hold out hope that he’s still alive, and that we can find him and bring him home safe to his parents,” Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley told reporters today. “But, we’ll continue to look at all angles and exhaust all investigative avenues.” pic.twitter.com/9oVjBPwFjL
— Chatham County Police Department (@ChathamCountyPD) October 6, 2022
No Amber Alert was issued for Quinton, Hadley said at the time because that would require police to first determine the child had been kidnapped.
Quinton’s babysitter, Diana McCarta, told WSAV in an exclusive report that she had previously called Georgia’s Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS) because she was concerned for the child’s welfare.
McCarta told the station that she’s not the only person in the area who is concerned over Quinton and his brother, claiming other people in the neighborhood also talked to DFCS officials.
The 20-month-old boy was last seen at the home where he reportedly lived with his mother, her boyfriend, his 3-year-old brother, and the child’s maternal grandparents, Thomas and Billie Jo Howell.
The local TV station has obtained video footage that shows a heated confrontation between McCarta and Quinton’s grandmother, who reportedly has legal custody of the missing boy and his 3-year-old brother.
The footage shows Howell pointing her finger at the babysitter and yelling, “This is my baby, not yours.”
Howell was allegedly angered over McCarta’s suggestion of holding a memorial for the missing toddler.
“You’re awful to say you’re going to put up a memorial,” the grandmother could be heard yelling. “My baby’s not dead.”