SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — It’s been 66 days since anyone saw Quinton Simon alive, and just over two weeks since Quinton’s remains were found in a southwest Chatham County landfill.
The 20-month-old little boy, his story, and his case have broken the hearts of people around the world.
Oct. 5 started as a quiet morning in the neighborhood where Quinton Simon lived.
The story that Quinton’s mom told the police is that Daniel Youngkin, her boyfriend, went to work around 6 while Leilani Simon slept in.
According to Quinton’s babysitter, Quinton’s mom texted early that Quinton nor his siblings would be coming over.
But at 9:42 that morning, the quiet morning in that neighborhood was shattered. At not even two years old, little Quinton Simon was gone.
The thing is that the story that Quinton’s mom was telling the police simply didn’t make sense.
It was just a matter of hours before we knew police had poked holes right through the story that Leilani Simon’s own family says she told.
Grandpa called Leilani Simon a liar on day two of this search.
“Your first concern that next morning is, could this little baby have had to sleep in the woods, or could this story be something way worse,” he asked.
On October 6th the FBI started its search focused on the trash.
“As we continue our search for Quinton Simon I want to update you on our aggressive efforts to find him,” said Chief Hadley of the Chatham County Police Department.
And as the search for Quinton became more specific, those close to the missing little boy became more of a spectacle.
Quinton’s grandmother was caught in a screaming match with his babysitter, and Leilani Simon was essentially in hiding.
But then, Chatham County police broke the news that Quinton had not wandered away.
While the debacle was unfolding, Quinton’s family was spotted out at a bar on Tybee Island. According to the people who served Quinton’s mom, Leilani, along with other family and friends, they were taking shots and being flirty.
“It was shocking. It was shocking to me, it was shocking in our newsroom when I told this story, it was shocking to the people around the world who were following this story online,” said WSAV lead investigative reporter Brett Buffington.
This picture from the beach bar was taken the same day as the search from Quinton turned to a dump.
Exclusive interview with Diana McCarta
However, there was someone who cared about this missing little boy. Someone who told police about how Quinton was treated before he went missing and before he was killed.
Quinton’s babysitter Diana McCarta sat down with WSAV’s Brett Buffington for an exclusive interview that can be seen below.
Leilani Simon’s criminal history
In rural Burke County, Georgia, 90 miles from where Quinton was last seen and more than two years ago, Leilani Simon got arrested.
Her mugshot was taken then in June 2020. According to this police report, Leilani broke through the window of her neighbor’s camper.
She told police, stealing the 50 bucks in change was Quinton’s father’s idea.
Police have told us, Henry “Bubba” Moss wasn’t involved in Quinton’s life. But since his son died, Bubba Moss has lost his mom, and his dad too.
It was in the town where Leilani’s next boyfriend lived that she got another mugshot. Deputies in North Carolina charged Leilani with a felony, which was lowered in a plea agreement after she stole cigarettes, popcorn, and a soda, from the gas station where she worked.
But earlier this year, there was a line in the police report that might get your attention. After Leilani and her mom got into a shoving match, the cops came to the Chatham County home where the family lives.
As those officers were talking this report says Leilani’s brother accused her of stealing money from their mother and using that money to buy drugs.
Quinton’s remains found and Leilani charged
Of all the charges Leilani has faced, with the probation she was on, nothing compared to the charge of killing your own toddler.
Leilani Simon’s mugshot was taken just three days after this exhausting search ended—a search that took more than a month in a local landfill.
Police investigators, using among other things, cell phone data were able to build this case.
They believe Leilani Simon left her home drove Quinton to a dumpster and tossed the 20-month-old little boy inside. That dumpster was dumped into a trash truck which brought Quinton to this landfill.
At just 22 years old, Leilani Simon has been charged with malice murder. This is a charge that will require prosecutors to prove that Quinton’s own mother not only killed the toddler but intended to do it. It is a charge that Leilani Simon through her public defender has said she’s not guilty of.
Leilani Simon is now in the Chatham County Detention Center awaiting that day.
A trial date has not been set but she is expected to be back in court for a status hearing in January.