Mother of missing child, the only suspect in the case, discusses harassment and the search for her son
CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s been almost three weeks since 20-month-old Quinton Simon was reported missing from his Chatham County home.
Police say Quinton’s mother, Leilani Simon, is the only suspect in his disappearance and death - though no charges have been filed. Police and FBI agents are actively searching a Chatham County landfill for Quinton’s remains.
There’s been a huge amount of national attention on this case, with people from all over the place emotionally invested in finding Quinton. That attention has even driven people to what they call “protesting” outside the Simon’s home at all hours of the day.
In some instances, these demonstrations have become disruptive, with four people being arrested over the weekend for blocking the Simons’ driveway and banging on their windows and doors.
Leilani and her mother, Billie Howell, said that some people have gone so far as to leave signs that say things like “Baby Killer” on Quinton’s memorial, which they say disrespects his memory.
“It makes it hard to even process what’s going around us. We get to the point where we have to barricade our own home in order to even feel safe in our backyard because we can’t even process what is happening everywhere else, or even have the time to do so. 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,” Leilani Simon said.
“We have no answer, we have no more than what everybody else has. Everybody just has theories, and they’re running with theories, and by them doing that, that’s what’s causing all this. We have no more answers than everybody else,” Billie Howell said.
Leilani said that they’ve put up security cameras around the home as well as floodlights, and that they’ve had to move Quinton’s memorial away from the street to keep unwanted attention away from it.
Quinton’s grandmother, Howell, had custody of Quinton at the time of his disappearance. Howell said she was out of town when he disappeared, and life hasn’t been the same for her since.
“I just remember showing up and being devastated. Just not - like it wasn’t even real. It took me a couple of days to even comprehend that he wasn’t here. And I shook, and shook, and shook and I shake when I go to bed,” Howell said.
Even with the attention since Quinton went missing, Leilani said she wants everyone to know that she’s not running away.
“I’m here. I’ve been here every day since this. I’m not running and I’m not hiding. And if something does come up that I am at fault, I will take myself to that police station,” Leilani Simon said.
Chatham County Police have repeatedly said that though they’ve named Leilani the prime suspect in her son’s disappearance and death, and they don’t believe she’s a flight risk.
Leilani says that she and her mother spend their days in the backyard of their home, because it’s too difficult to be inside with reminders of Quinton and the fact that he’s gone.
“Every day that goes by its less tears and more anger, not knowing what’s happening, if that’s even understandable. You wake up every day, angry, hoping that you’ll get a phone call, and that phone call just doesn’t come,” Leilani said.
CCPD and the FBI haven’t released many details in the case, and haven’t said why they believe Quinton is in a landfill. Police say they’re doing that to preserve any potential court cases down the line.
Leilani and Howell said that they get their new information about the case from watching the news, and that they feel all they can do now is hope.
“We want something great to come out of this, but mostly, we want him not to be found in that landfill. We want him to be found,” Billie Howell said.
“Happy and alive. We want him back in our arms, holding us. That’s what we want. We’re just hoping that he’s in somebody’s house and they’re feeding him and maybe they wanted a baby or couldn’t have a baby. Maybe they thought they were his savior. That’s our best hope at this point,” Leilani said.
The Chatham County Police Department said they have no reason to believe that Quinton was abducted or kidnapped, and their evidence suggests he was placed in a dumpster and that his remains are in the landfill they’re currently searching.
Leilani has not been charged with anything at this time and there are no other suspects in the case.
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