CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. — The mother of a southeast Georgia toddler who went missing last month and is presumed dead has been arrested and charged with murdering him.
The Chatham County Police Department said on Monday they had arrested 22-year-old Leilani Simon in her 20-month-old child Quinton's death. The department said she had been taken to the Chatham County Detention Center and is being held there as she awaits a bond hearing.
According to WSAV, police and the FBI held a news conference following the arrest, adding that human remains were found in a landfill on Nov. 18. Those remains have not been identified as Quinton, but police believe they belong to the missing boy.
WSAV reported more test will need to done to confirm an ID.
"We are deeply saddened by this case, but we are thankful that we are one step closer to justice for little Quinton," the department said.
The mom reported him missing from his playpen at their home just outside Savannah in early October.
She was then named as the prime suspect in his disappearance, though she maintained in comments as recently as late October that she didn't know what happened to him.
“We’re in limbo just like everybody else is," Leilani Simon told WTOC-TV. “We’re sitting here every day waiting for answers. I’m not running and I’m not hiding,” she said. “And if something does come up that I am at fault, I will take myself to that police station.”
After police spent days searching the home and surrounding neighborhood, Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley said that investigators believe the child's body was dumped in a trash bin that was later emptied at a landfill.
Police said earlier this month the likelihood of Quinton being found were low, because of the amount of trash to search at the landfill and the compressed waste making it even harder.
"The landfill search has been a task more grueling than anyone could imagine, but we stay focused," the department said in a tweet.
“We want him back in our arms, holding us. That’s what we want," Leilani Simon said last month. “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.”