Search for Quinton Simon upgraded to criminal investigation

Missing

SAVANNAH, Ga. (NewsNation) — Authorities have now declared the case of a missing Georgia toddler a criminal investigation after he disappeared last week.

On Monday, Savannah police drained a swimming pool as the all-out search intensifies.

“We are continuing to use every investigative resource available for us to locate little Quinton,” Chief Jeff Hadley said in a press conference held Monday. “We have conducted multiple interviews, executed multiple search warrants and have canvassed numerous specific geographic areas.”

20-month-old Quinton Simon was allegedly last seen at home Wednesday morning at 6 a.m., according to his mother Lelani Simon.

The FBI is involved, and authorities have spent the last five days extensively searching the areas near the families’ home.

“Anything can help. Anybody that knows anything — he’s just a baby,” Billie Howell, Quinton’s grandmother, said speaking on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Monday.

Meanwhile, the grandfather says the mother’s story does not make sense.

“She’s lied to us before so many times. I don’t know. It’s bad to say, but she just likes to lie,” Quinton’s grandfather, Thomas Howell said.

Police have been to the family’s house in the past. According to police reports, family members say Quintin’s mom has a history of stealing and using the money to buy drugs.

A babysitter of Quinton’s, Diana McCarta, told NewsNation she received a text from Simon at 5:30 a.m. the day Quinton disappeared that said McCarta did not have to watch him. Later that morning, McCarta said she got a text from Quinton’s grandmother asking if she had seen Quinton.

“I got a text at 9 o’clock, saying ‘have you seen Quinton?'” said McCarta. “I immediately go to their house and try to help them look, but they didn’t want that. So I have just been waiting around like everyone else.”

Simon called 911 shortly after and was reported missing around 9 a.m.

“My heart is broken. I’m not his mother, I’m not his family but I love him very much and I just don’t know what could have happened. The police did a very good job looking. Where does a one-year-old-go? They covered a lot of ground,” McCarta said.

According to court documents obtained by a local TV news station, Simon’s mother, Billie Jo Howell, and her husband have custody of Quinton and his three-year-old brother.

Missing toddler Quinton Simon. Credit: Chatham County Police

Simon, Simon’s boyfriend and Howell all live in the same home together, along with Quinton and two other children. Howell filed to have Simon and her boyfriend evicted in early September, according to NewsNation affiliate WSAV.

A day before the eviction was filed, an incident report says Simon and Howell got into a fight. It is unknown what the fight was about, but Simon told officers she was on probation and didn’t want trouble. WSAV doesn’t know what that probation is for.

A report obtained by WSAV said when police officers talked with Simon’s brother, he told them that Simon had a history of stealing and using money to buy drugs.

Police said they are working 20-hour days to search for Quinton.

Local authorities and the FBI are searching dumpsters, drain pipes and ponds in the nearby area. Police have already searched the house.

“Finding Quinton Simon is our highest priority, and the intensity of our work is as strong as it has been since the day of his disappearance,” police said over the weekend in a Facebook post.

NewsNation affiliate WSAV contributed to this report.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Quinton’s last name as Smith. His last name is Simon.

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