Police are searching a Georgia landfill for the remains of a missing toddler

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) – The search for a missing Georgia toddler who police believe is dead shifted Tuesday to a landfill outside Savannah, where investigators planned to begin sifting through trash for the child’s remains.

Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley said investigators have evidence that prompted a search of the landfill for the body of 20-month-old Quinton Simon, but declined to say what it was.

“We believe it was placed in a specific dumpster at a specific location and was brought here by regular means of disposal,” Hadley said at a news conference. “I certainly believe we will find his remains here in the landfill.”

Police began searching for Quinton on Oct. 5 when his mother called 911 to say the boy was missing from his fence. After spending more than a week searching the home and neighborhood, Hadley announced Thursday that police believe the child is dead.

He also named the boy’s mother, Leilani Simon, as a suspect in her son’s death and disappearance. Almost a week later, she has not been arrested or charged.

Hadley said his department and the FBI spent days planning and bringing in personnel and equipment to search the dump.

“We want justice for Quinton just like everyone else,” the police chief said, “and we want to find his remains so we can give him a proper resting place.”

Dozens of FBI agents were on hand to assist officers, said Will Clarke, supervising agent for the bureau’s Savannah satellite office.

Clarke said investigators focused their search on a specific area of ​​the landfill, where debris would be deposited on a designated search deck for authorities to comb through one pile at a time.

“This is not going to be quick, it is not going to be easy, and the outcome is uncertain,” Clarke said.

Leilani Simon did not have a phone number listed and it was not known Tuesday if she had an attorney who could speak on her behalf. Court records show she represented herself in two civil cases filed since March involving her child custody and child support.

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

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

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

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

Quinton’s mother reported him missing a week later.

“We’re not ready to charge anybody yet,” Hadley said Tuesday when asked why no arrests had been made. “We still have work to do. We still have to investigate. We will not take any preemptive action that would prejudice future prosecutions.”

The Latest

To Top