‘I still cry’: Neighbors react to missing toddler’s mother arrested in his death

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 11:47 PM EST
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Chatham County Police arrested the mother of missing toddler Quinton Simon on Monday afternoon. 22-year-old Leilani Simon is in custody, charged with murdering her child.

Police said they found human remains in a landfill Friday.

Simon’s charges include concealing a death, false statements, false report of a crime and murder.

Neighbors were not surprised baby Quinton’s mother was charged with his disappearance and death. There has been a lot of conflicting information from her and the family since Leilani reported her son missing almost two months ago. Quinton’s disappearance has gained national attention. Now, we all wait for the final DNA results and the final ruling in court.

”From the first day it just did not feel right,” said Gerri McCusker, a neighbor. Quinton Simon’s disappearance and death is unsettling for neighbors off Buckhalter Road.

His mother being arrested was exactly what many of them thought would happen.

McCusker said: ”I was happy. I’m glad that they’ve arrested her. It’s just been been heartbreaking and this is the best news that’ s come out of that situation.”

Simon has been, according to police, their one and only suspect since this turned into a criminal investigation.

”What happened to this 20 month old child is unthinkable. No child should be harmed by anyone let alone the person in their lives that should be their protector,” said Will Clarke, Senior Supervisor for the FBI’s Savannah and Brunswick Offices.

”We have been telling you for weeks all of our evidence pointed to his mother being responsible for his death and disappearance and his remains being found in the landfill,” said Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley.

We aired an exclusive interview with the mother weeks ago who would not give a clear answer on her involvement.

”I’ve been here everyday since this. I’m not running and I’m not hiding. If something comes up that I am at fault, I will take myself to that police station,” said Leilani Simon, Quinton’s mother.

While it’s uncertain whether Leilani will get bond, Chief Hadley said she is where she should be.

”She doesn’t deserve a thanksgiving. Quinton deserves that.”

He, along with many other detectives and police officers, have personally felt the weight of the investigation.

Chief Hadley said: ”You also have a lot of general emotions as a human being and someone who has children.”

Some neighbors still can’t help but think about whether Quinton suffered

“I still cry. They’ll show a picture of him on TV and I’ll cry. It happened right around my birthday. That was the most miserable birthday I’ve ever had.”

Some neighbors said they knew this would happen, but they said it doesn’t make it any easier for them to hear. His babysitter who we’ve talked to before was not able to process her emotions this afternoon when she found out. WTOC did go to the family’s home. They would not comment on Leilani’s arrest. She will have her first court appearance Tuesday afternoon.