CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. - Police in Georgia have arrested the mother of 20-month-old Quinton Simon in connection to the little boy's death and disappearance after human remains were found in a nearby landfill.
The Chatham County Police Department announced the arrest of 22-year-old Leilani Simon on Monday. She was taken into custody and is charged with malice murder, concealing the death of an individual, false reporting, and making false statements.
"She doesn’t deserve a Thanksgiving, if I can go off script for a little bit, Quinton deserves that," Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley said getting a bit choked up while speaking.
Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley said Simon is the sole suspect and they do not expect any further arrests.
"On Friday, our search teams at the Waste Management landfill found what they believe were human remains. This afternoon, the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia confirmed that they are, in fact, human remains," said Chief Hadley during a Monday afternoon press conference.
Leilani Simon (Chattham County Sheriff's Office)
The chief says additional testing on the remains still needs to be done including DNA testing. The FBI confirms the remains are that of a human child.
"We have every reason to believe that this will confirm the remains are Quinton’s," Chief Hadley said.
Leilani Simon first reported her son missing on Oct. 5. Authorities say she called 911 and said Quinton disappeared from his playpen at their home just outside Savannah. Police searched the house and neighborhood for a week before announcing that they believed he was dead.
After that week, police shifted their focus onto the child's mother. She was named a suspect in his death and disappearance while she maintained she didn't know what happened to him.
The chief launched an investigation at a nearby landfill. He said investigators had "evidence" that prompted the search.
"As we have said from the beginning with the landfill, we had every belief that Quinton was there in the landfill," the chief said. "Having found what we found on Friday and the preliminary findings from the FBI that we got today, led us to make an arrest today."
For four weeks, Police and FBI agents combed through piles of trash, one-by-one, looking for any signs of the child. People from all over the world were watching this case.
"We feel we have a very strong case, we have put thousands of hours into this, and we believe this was the right move today to be able to do that," the chief said.
On Nov. 14, police updated the public that the "chances of finding Quinton's remains are low," but there was no clear end date to the search in sight.
Leilani Simon was booked into the Chatham County Detention Center where she is being held without bond.