Missing Georgia toddler Quinton Simon is feared dead and his mother, Lelani Simon, is now considered a prime suspect in the case, police say.
In an announcement on Wednesday night, Chatham County police said they were “saddened” to report that they believed 20-month-old Quinton is no longer alive - eight days after he vanished.
The child’s 22-year-old mother, Ms Simon, has meanwhile been named a prime suspect in the disappearance and death of Quinton, who was last seen on 5 October.
She is the first suspect to be named in the disappearance, which until Wednesday night have been considered a missing persons case.
“We have named his mother, Leilani Simon, as the prime suspect in his disappearance and death,” the police statement said, adding that no arrests have yet been made and no charges have been filed.
Chatham County Police Chief Hadley is expected to hold a news briefing on Thursday at an unconfirmed time, when further updates are expected in the case.
“We will not be making any further statements, or answering any questions until that time,” said police. “We know that thousands of people around the world will be heartbroken by this news, and we share your sorrow.”
It comes after police announced the discovery of evidence “that we believe will help move this case forward & we’re now working to analyse the evidence to see where it leads us”, in an update on Tuesday.
Police have said that all parties involved have cooperated with their investigation.
“We’ve tried to use every available resource that we can that makes sense within the scope of our investigation to try to get a better understanding of what’s happened to little Quinton,” Chief Hadley said last week.
With the help of the FBI, Chatham County investigators had also re-canvassed an area around the property from where Quinton was last seen at 6am on Wednesday 5 October, including the pool in the backyard which was drained earlier this week.