Mom says she hopes toddler alive as police search for body

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The mother of a missing Georgia toddler presumed dead by police said Monday that she still hopes her son will be found “happy and alive” as investigators search a landfill for the child’s remains.

Nearly three weeks have passed since Leilani Simon called police to report her son, 20-month-old Quinton Simon, was missing from his playpen at their home just outside Savannah. Though police have named her as a suspect in her son’s death and disappearance, the boy’s mother said she doesn’t know what happened to him.

“We’re in limbo just like everybody else is,” Simon told WTOC-TV. “We’re sitting here every day waiting for answers.”

She spoke to the TV station as police and FBI agents Monday resumed sifting through trash at a nearby landfill in the search for the boy’s remains. Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley told reporters last week that police believe the child’s body was dumped in a trash bin that was later emptied at the landfill.

After police spent days searching the home and surrounding neighborhood, Hadley said that investigators believe the child is dead. He also named Simon as police’s sole suspect, though he declined to say what evidence police have to support their suspicion.

Simon has not been arrested or charged in the case.

“I’m not running and I’m not hiding,” she said. “And if something does come up that I am at fault, I will take myself to that police station.”

Hadley said police had evidence that prompted the landfill search, though he declined to say what it was.

“I have every belief that we will find his remains here at the landfill,” the police chief said last Tuesday.

Simon insisted she hasn’t given up hope that her son is still alive.

“We want him back in our arms, holding us. That’s what we want,” she said. “We’re just hoping that he’s in somebody’s house and they’re feeding him and maybe they wanted a baby or couldn’t have a baby. Maybe they thought they were his savior. That’s our best hope at this point.”

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