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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Gustaf Kilander

Missing toddler Quinton Simon believed to be buried in landfill, police say

Chatham County Police Department

The body of missing toddler Quinton Simon is believed to be buried in a landfill, police have said.

Local police and the FBI announced the grim development at a news conference on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after 20-month-old Quinton vanished on 5 October in Savannah.

Officials said there is evidence to suggest the boy was placed in a dumpster and taken to a landfill in the area, prompting a search that is now underway.

“We know that this is going to be a physically, mentally and emotionally grueling task for our investigators and team,” Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley said. “We want justice for Quinton just like everyone else.”

The update comes days after police announced they believed Quinton is dead and his mother, 22-year-old Leilani Simon, is considered the “prime suspect”. No arrests have been made in the case so far.

FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Will Clarke said during the press conference: “We, along with our law enforcement partners, go into this process with heavy hearts.

“We did not want to end up at this point. But the evidence has taken us here.”

Mr Clarke said that “this will not be quick” and “it will not be easy, and the outcome is uncertain”.

“As the chief said, we want justice for Quinton, and we want to find him a proper resting place,” he said.

“We’ve been following the evidence, where it has taken us and the evidence has taken us to this landfill.”

Chief Hadley said he was unable to share what evidence led the authorities to the landfill.

“I can’t thank the FBI enough for all that they have done,” the chief said. “They have been tremendous and phenomenal.”

“We’re not ready to charge anyone yet, we still have work to do,” he added. “We still have an investigation to do and we are not going to do anything preemptively that would harm future prosecution.”

The police chief was asked by the press how long he expects the landfill search to take.

“It’s kind of up to what happens, but as Agent Clarke said, this is not going to be quick,” he replied. “This is not going to happen within a day or so. We are here for the long haul.”

The police chief was also asked about the whereabouts of Quinton’s mother, Ms Simon, who has not been arrested or charged nearly a week after being labeled the top suspect.

“I believe she’s still here in Chatham County,” the chief said, later adding that he doesn’t think she’s a flight risk. Asked why, he said, “I can’t get into that”.

Police have said that Quinton was last seen at home in Savannah around 6am on 5 October. About three hours later, he was reported missing.

A dispatch call made by the emergency services reveals some details concerning what the authorities were told when Quinton’s mother called 911.

“Complainant advised her one-year-old son is missing,” the dispatcher said, WJCL reported. “She woke up, her door was open. Advised he’s unable to open a door. Thinks someone came in and took him.”

According to WJCL, court documents show that there were rifts in the family before the disappearance.

Grandmother Billie Jo Howell tried to get Quinton’s mother and her boyfriend Daniel Youngkin to leave the residence.

Ms Howell is Ms Simon’s mother.

“They have damaged my property and at this point, no one is living in peace,” the grandmother said, according to the legal filing.

She said she wanted her daughter and Mr Youngkin to leave the home “as soon as possible”.

Ms Howell and her husband, Quinton’s grandparents, have custody of him and his older brother, aged three, documents reveal, WJCL reported.

“She hasn’t always done the right thing,” Ms Howell previously said about her daughter. “Sometimes she does really great, sometimes she doesn’t.”

“I don’t know what to think right now. I don’t know what to believe, because I don’t think anybody ever believes this is going to happen to them,” she added, according to WJCL. “I don’t know if I can trust her or I don’t. I just know I’m hurting.”

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