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The grandmother of murdered toddler Quinton Simon reported her daughter to the FBI, according to a new report.
A day after police in Chatham County, Georgia, announced they had arrested Leilani Simon, 22, and charged her with murder after discovering what were believed to be the remains of her son, the dead child’s grandmother emerged as the person who had tipped off the authorites – about her own daughter.
A family friend told WTOC-TV that Billie Howell, the little boy’s grandmother, was struggling to come to terms with the death of the 20-month year-old toddler, and the alleged role of her daughter in his disappearance and death.
The friend, who was not named in the report, said several weeks ago, Ms Simon had checked herself into a treatment centre. The person said the grandmother had been communication with the FBI on a daily basis since Quinton was reported missing on October 5.
At some point, Ms Simon’s mother learned her daughter was set to check herself out of the treatment centre, the friend said.
“Her mother had to make one of the hardest decisions of her life, and call the FBI agents and let them know that she was signing herself out, and that she could not come back here, and that she was going to be a flight risk, because she could not come back here because she was going to be back on the streets doing God knows what with God knows who,” the friend said.
On Monday afternoon, police said Ms Simon, 22, had been charged over his disappearance and alleged murder.
“This afternoon Chatham County Police Department detectives arrested 22-year-old Leilani Simon and charged her with malice murder, concealing the death of another person, false reporting and making false statements in connection with the disappearance and death of her son 20-month old Quinton Simon,” said police chief Jeffrey Hadley.
“On Friday, our search teams at the waste management landfill found what they believed were human remains. This afternoon, the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, confirmed that they are in fact human remains. Additional testing including a DNA analysis, is being conducted and we have every reason to believe that this will confirm the remains are Quentin’s.”
He added: “This is a heartbreaking development for everyone who loved Quinton, for the many people who came to know him after his disappearance, and for our department.”
Quinton Simon went missing on Oct 5
(Screenshot / WJCL / Facebook / Billie Jo Howell)
The grandmother’s friend said that at the request of the FBI, she picked up her daughter from the treatment centre and spent several hours with her.
“They asked her to buy some time. So, she went and picked up Leilani’s belongings from another centre, and then she took Leilani to have her last free meal,” the family friend said.
Ms Simon was booked at the Chatham County Detention Centre where she will be held while she awaits a bond hearing, the Chatham County Police Department said.
It was not immediately clear if she has been assigned a lawyer, or given a chance to enter a plea.
A spokesperson for Chatham County Police Department, Betsy Nolen, told The Independent she was unable to speak specifically to the WTOC report, or anything beyond what the police chief had already told the media.