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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Graeme Massie

Quinton Simon: Everything we know about the dead child’s mother who has been charged with his murder

Screenshot / WJCL / Facebook / Billie Jo Howell

When the FBI announced that it had identified bones found at a Georgia landfill as those of missing toddler Quinton Simon, it brought to an end a nearly two-month investigation into the youngster’s disappearance.

But the legal fight has just begun for the 20-month-old boy’s mother, Leilani Simon, who has been arrested and charged with malice murder, concealing the death of another person, and other charges.

The child’s remains were found on 18 November after authorities conducted a 30-day search during which investigators picked through 1.2m pounds of trash at Savannah’s Superior landfill.

FBI officials announced on 28 November that DNA analysis had confirmed the remains belonged to Quinton.

Quinton Simon reported missing

The child was reported missing from his home in Savannah, Georgia, on 5 October. He was reportedly last seen at about 6am but the authorities were not alerted by his mother until 9.40am.

She told authorities that her son had last been seen in a playpen at the home, and told a 911 dispatcher that she believed someone had entered the home and taken him.

Ms Simon lived at the home with Quinton’s grandparents and her boyfriend, according to WJCL. The news station also obtained court documents that stated that Quinton’s grandparents had legal custody of the boy.

Mother named as the main suspect

On 13 October, Chatham County police stated that they believed the youngster was dead and that Ms Simon was the main suspect in the case.

Boy’s grandmother and mother drinking at a bar as landfill search starts

Law enforcement began a “gruelling” search of a Savannah area landfill on 18 October, with investigators believing the boy’s body was placed in a dumpster and disposed of.

The FBI released this photo of investigators combing through garbage in the landfill search for Quinton Simon (FBI)

Reports then emerged that on the day the search started, Ms Simon and her mother, Billie Jo Howell, were seen drinking at Sting Ray’s bar in nearby Tybee Island.

“They were having a great time like they didn’t have a care in the world,” a server told The New York Post. “They were drinking Patron shots in the deck area, being loud and laughing. It’s almost like they were trying to draw attention to themselves.”

Leilani Simon breaks silence on son’s disappearance

Finally, on 28 October, Ms Simon made her first public comments on Quinton’s disappearance and said that she hoped he was found “happy and alive.”

“I’m here. I’ve been here every day since this. I’m not running and I’m not hiding,” she told WTOC. “And if something does come up that I am at fault, I will take myself to that police station.”

She told the news station that her family hated the attention it was getting: “I can’t even walk out and appreciate my own son’s memorial or put down gifts that I got for him. I can’t even go out there and do that without harassment and negligence and everything. It’s just devastating to see that this is how the outside world reacts.”

Remains found at landfill

Investigators found bones at the landfill they were searching on 18 November and sent them away for the FBI to carry out DNA analysis.

(Chatham County Police )

Leilani Simon charged with murder

Chatham County police announced on 22 November that Ms Simon had been charged with murder in connection with her son’s disappearance. She is currently being held at the Chatham County Detention Center.

Chatham County Police Department booking photo of Leilani Simon, 21 November 2023 (Chatham County Police Department)

Officials said when they announced the charges, that they did not expect to make any further arrests in the case.

FBI confirms the bones belong to Quinton Simon

The agency’s Atlanta office confirmed on 28 November that DNA analysis determined the remains found in the landfill belonged to Quinton Simon.

Court appearance

A preliminary hearing is set for Leilani Simon on 11 January 2023. Prosecutors will have the chance to tell a judge about some of the facts in the case and explain why there was probable cause for Ms Simon’s arrest.

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