Quinton Simon, a 20-month-old boy who has been missing from his Chatham County home for more than a week, is presumed dead, according to authorities.
On Wednesday, investigators made the grim announcement that they have gathered enough evidence have gathered enough evidence to conclude that the boy is dead.
"We know that thousands of people around the world will be heartbroken by this news, and we share your sorrow," a post on the police department's official Facebook page said.
Child's Mother a Prime Suspect
Authorities are still searching for the body of 20-month-old Quinton Simon, Chatham County police Chief Jeff Hadley said during a news conference. Police consider the boy's mother, Leilani Simon, a suspect, but Hadley said she hadn't been charged as of Thursday afternoon. Leilani's whereabouts were unknown after being named as a suspect in the case, as reported by the New York Post.
The toddler's mother called 911 on the morning of Oct. 5 to report him missing, saying she had last seen her son inside his playpen. Police and volunteers quickly fanned out across the neighborhood just outside Savannah to look for the child, who was described as last seen wearing a Sesame Street T-shirt and black pants.
In the days that followed, police obtained a warrant to search the child's home with assistance from FBI agents. They drained a pool in the backyard and used search dogs to comb woods near the house.
The investigation into Quinton's disappearance became criminal in nature on Tuesday, shortly after Leilani's mother told police she did not trust her daughter.
Hadley declined to specify what led police to believe the boy is dead. "What I can say is the evidence we have so far based on multiple search warrants and interviews has led us to the conclusion that Quinton is deceased," the chief said.
Screenshots Allege Quinton Buried in Landfill
The child's grandmother, Billie Jo Howell, claimed to a local crime reporter that authorities found the boy's remains in a landfill.
On Thursday, October 13, a mother who runs a page called, Darkness Exposed which discussed crime news extensively posted a photo of their chat with the grandmother who alleges, "Quinton has passed, He is in a landfilled and my daughter had done it. She has no memory of it."
In another screenshot, Howell allegedly claims authorities have not yet found the child's body. Though the account deleted these tweets immediately, some of the Twitter users captured screenshots of it and reposted the same.
Hadley said his officers and the FBI had conducted an "exhaustive" search but have not yet found the child's body. "Sadly, we still have not found Quinton," Hadley said. "But our search and our investigation will continue, and it will continue with every available resource we have."
Leilani Ordered to Pay Child Support to Howell Last Month
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. A few weeks later, on Sept. 28, a Superior Court judge ordered Leilani Simon to pay $150 per month in child support. Quinton was reported missing a week later.