Thirteen days after Georgia toddler Quinton Simon was reported missing from his Savannah home, police officials said Tuesday they had reason to believe the baby’s body was discarded in a “specific dumpster” and transported to a local landfill by “regular means.”
Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley told reporters on Tuesday investigators had “entered a new phase in the search for Quinton Simon” when they recently began searching the Waste Management landfill located in the county. Hadley was joined by FBI Savannah Senior Supervisory Special Agent Will Clark.
“We did not want to end up at this point, but the evidence has taken us here. We are not just randomly searching this landfill. We have evidence, specific evidence, that leads us to this large property,” Clark said. He later added: “We’re not searching the whole landfill. We have a specific area where we are focused.”
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Clark said the evidence had led investigators to the landfill, and officials had spent several days planning for the search effort. He added that the FBI had brought in specialists from Quantico, Virginia, and Atlanta, as well as “all” of the agency’s personnel from the Savannah area.
What the authorities are trying to do is to find sufficient evidence that the mother actually did something harmful to the child.
Asked during the press conference whether investigators believed Quinton was taken to the landfill, or if his body was “thrown in the trash” and then ended up at the landfill, Hadley responded: “We believe that he was placed in a specific dumpster at a specific location, and it was brought here by regular means.”
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Ted Williams, a renowned attorney and a former longtime homicide detective, called authorities’ Tuesday morning announcement “such sad news.”
“It is a tragedy that investigators have had to determine pursuant to their investigation that this child is no longer with us,” Williams told Fox News Digital, “and that he was thrown in the garbage like a pile of trash.”
He emphasized that although police had identified the child’s mother, Leilani Simon, as their main suspect, “they are still gathering evidence.”
“They are still trying to put together a case that would be prosecutable,” Williams went on. “There is always a possibility, irrespective of not finding the child’s body, that pursuant to circumstantial evidence alone, that they could make an arrest in this case.”
Williams said investigators are “still in the building stage” and are likely seeking evidence that proves “that the mother did something untoward toward the child.”
“So, what the authorities are trying to do is to find sufficient evidence that the mother actually did something harmful to the child,” he explained. “The mere fact that the child may be dead is really not enough for them to say that the mother did something that would be of a criminal nature, such as killing the child.”
Quinton was last seen in the early morning hours of Oct. 5, inside his family’s house on Buckhalter Road in Savannah. The residence is a large, yellow-colored, two-story home with a fence-in yard and includes a pool. The child reportedly lived there with his brother, his maternal grandparents, his mother and her boyfriend.
The boy’s mother, 22-year-old Leilani Simon, called police around 9:40 a.m. and said her son was not inside their home, police officials stated. The toddler was allegedly last seen around 6 a.m. Wednesday, when he was wearing a Sesame Street shirt and black bottoms.
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Local news station WCJL reported that Simon told a police dispatcher that she awoke to find “her door was open,” and her son missing. She allegedly said Quinton was “unable to open a door” and that she thought “someone came in and took him.”
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On Thursday, Chatham County Police identified Quinton’s mother as “the prime suspect in his disappearance and death.”
Police are asking anyone with information related to this case to call 912-667-3134.