Police: Missing Georgia toddler believed dead, mom a suspect

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia toddler who was reported missing by his mother last week is believed to be dead, and she is a suspect in his death, according to police.

The Chatham County Police Department tweeted late Wednesday, “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.”

No arrests have been made and no charges have been filed, police said. It wasn’t immediately known Thursday if Leilani Simon had a lawyer who could speak on her behalf.

The police chief planned to discuss the case during a news conference later Thursday.

Simon called police Oct. 5 to report that her 20-month-old son had been in his playpen before she discovered he was missing. Police searched the family’s neighborhood just outside of Savannah for the toddler, who was described as last seen wearing a Sesame Street T-shirt and black pants.

In the week that followed, police obtained a warrant and searched the family’s home with the FBI’s assistance. Investigators drained a pool in the backyard and used dogs to search nearby woods.

Police reports and court documents show there was turmoil in recent weeks between the child’s mother and grandmother, Billie Jo Howell, who had legal custody of him and an older sibling. Quinton, his mother and his mother’s boyfriend lived with Howell.

Simon called police on Sept. 7 following an argument with her mother over laundry in which she said Howell had shoved her against a wall, according to a police report. No one was charged and an officer found no injuries other than Simon’s reddened elbow.

The following day, Quinton’s grandmother filed papers in Chatham County Magistrate Court to have Simon and her boyfriend evicted from her home, WTOC-TV reported.

“Just want them to move out as quick as possible. … They have damaged my property and at this point no one is living in peace,” the Sept. 8 court document read.

A few weeks later, on Sept. 28, a Superior Court judge ordered Leilani Simon to pay $150 per month in child support.

Quinton’s mother reported him missing a week later.

The police chief previously said officers had contacted the boy’s biological father and did not believe he was involved. Police never issued an Amber Alert for Quinton because they didn’t have evidence the child had been abducted, he said.