Georgia police and the FBI are intensifying their search for missing toddler Quinton Simon after the boy’s disappearance six days ago. Police have searched the missing toddler’s home for the second time after the child’s caretaker recalled receiving “odd” messages before his disappearance. The toddler was allegedly last seen at his home in Savanah, Georgia around 6am on Wednesday.
Diana McCarta, who said she had been babysitting Quinton and his brother for six months, told local news channel WSAV-TV that she had seen the boys the day before Quinton disappeared.
Referring to the boy’s mum, Leilani Simon, Ms McCarta said: “I got a text this morning saying they would not be here, would not be babysitting them at 5:29 [a.m.]. Which was kind of odd because I have them even when [their mother] doesn’t work.”
Ms McCarta then claimed that she received a text message around 9am from Quinton’s other relatives asking if she had seen the toddler.
She said: “I immediately go to their house. I try to help them look, they didn’t want that. So, I’ve been just waiting around like everyone else. 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 happen.”
Now, local police are being assisted by the FBI. The search has involved several interviews and canvasses of the area, according Chatham County Police Chief Jeffrey M. Hadley.
He told reporters: “[Law enforcement is] looking at it from multiple fronts, one of them being a criminal investigation, as well as a missing child at this point.”
He added: “Everybody is being met. Everybody is being interviewed. Everybody that had contact with Quinton in the most recent time of his disappearance is being looked at, is being interviewed.”
He declined to comment on whether the family was assisting police or had retained an attorney. He told reporters he didn’t know where the family were at the moment. Police have not said if foul play is suspected.
He said: “I don’t know where they are currently. I do believe they’ve been staying at the residence, but physically, right now, as I’m talking to you, I don’t know where they are.”
According to reports, Ms Simon told police she last saw her son in his playpen at around 6am Wednesday. He was reported missing after 9 am that day.
Local news outlet WSAV obtained court documents which show that Quinton’s mother, Ms Simon, had been ordered to begin paying child support for Quinton and his older brother.
The decision was made a week before the toddler went missing. Documents reviewed by WJCL show that Quinton’s grandmother, Billie Jo Howell, wanted Ms Simon and her boyfriend removed from her home.
WJCL reports that Billie Jo Howell and her husband have custody of Quinton and his three-year-old brother.
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There are allegations contained in the records that Ms Simon damaged Ms Howell’s property.
Ms Howell told WJCL: “She hasn’t always done the right thing. Sometimes she does really great, sometimes she doesn’t.
“I don’t know what to think right now. I don’t know what to believe, because I don’t think anybody ever believes this is going to happen to them.
“I don’t know if I can trust her or I don’t. I just know I’m hurting and I want this baby home. He’s my baby.”
However, police have said there does not appear to be a dispute over custody. No suspects or persons of interest have been named by police and they have said there is no evidence suggesting the toddler didn’t walk off on his own.