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Three protesters arrested outside missing toddler Quinton Simon’s home in Savannah

Leilani Simon, now the prime suspect in the investigation, and her mother Billie Jo Howell were seen drinking at Sting Ray’s

Andrea Blanco,Megan Sheets
Sunday 23 October 2022 14:52 BST
Desperate search continues for missing Georgia toddler Quinton Simon

Three people have been arrested while protesting outside the home of missing Georgia toddler Quinton Simon.

Chatham County police went to the home in Savannah on Friday night after receiving complaints about protesters, who then left the scene, WJCL reported.

But later in the night, three protesters returned and blocked the driveway, preventing someone from being able to leave.

The protesters - William Garrett, Wanda Boatright and John Boatwright - were subsequently charged with disorderly conduct after ignoring officers’ orders to move.

Police did not specify whether Quinton’s mother Leilani Simon - the “prime suspect” in the case - or his grandmother Billie Jo Howell were home at the time.

The incident came days after reports emerged that Ms Simon and Ms Howell were seen drinking at a bar as authorities searched a landfill where Quinton is believed to buried. The search was paused over the weekend and is set to resume Monday.

Authorities announced last Tuesday (18 October) that evidence suggests Quinton - who is feared dead - was placed in a dumpster and taken to the landfill at some point after he vanished from his home on the morning of 5 October.

The same day, local news station WSAV first reported that Ms Simon and Ms Howell were drinking at Sting Ray’s, a bar in the neighbouring Tybee Island.

When contacted by The Independent, a staff member said: “They were here, they drank, they left.”

Quinton Simon, aged 20 months, has been missing for over two weeks (Screenshot / WJCL / Facebook / Billie Jo Howell)

Chatam County Sheriff Jeff Prentice said that Ms Simon, who has not been arrested or charged, is not considered a flight risk. He added that authorities wouldn’t be releasing more information about the evidence they had encountered, noting they had “one shot” at arresting Ms Simon.

A server also told the New York Post that Ms Simon and Ms Howell “downed tequila shots” and stayed at the bar for hours on Tuesday, despite other customers’ voicing that they were upset the pair were drinking in public in the middle of an investigation into Quinton’s likely death.

“They were having a great time, like they didn’t have a care in the world,” a server told the Post. “They were drinking Patron shots in the deck area, being loud and laughing. It’s almost like they were trying to draw attention to themselves.”

A picture posted by a WSAV reporter shows a woman believed to be Ms Simon wearing black clothes at the bar. The outlet also reported that the mother and daughter were “flirtatious” with staff.

A legal expert interviewed by WJCL said that law enforcement is likely trying to build a rock-solid case before moving on with arrest warrants in order to protect the criminal investigation, but that the evidence found must have been strong.

“They need to find the remains if they can, because even though it is not required to prosecute a murder under Georgia law, it is always better to identify a cause and manner of death,” legal analyst Philip Holloway told the news station.

“If they make mistakes now, it could actually jeopardize the long-term success of the prosecution [that they] would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Photos released by the FBI on Tuesday show more than 20 crew members dressed in white forensic suits, heavy-duty boots and neon vests as they rake through the garbage.

It is unclear how many investigators are actively conducting the search, but authorities warned that it could take days and that potential results were “uncertain.”

Quinton went missing two weeks ago from his home in Savannah, a coastal city on the border between Georgia and South Carolina, in Chatham County. He was last seen at about 6am that day at an address in the 500 block of Buckhalter Road, and was reported missing by Ms Simon around 9.40am.

She told police her son was playing in a playpen when he was last seen, although earlier reports suggested Quinton had wandered off, CNN reported.

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