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Grandmother of deceased Savannah toddler Quinton Simon arrested, mother remains in custody

Written by K Bishop

Published October 8, 2022 @ 12:12 PM ET
Last Updated: November 21, 2022 @ 7:22 PM

Chatham County – Update (December 12, 2022) – The mother of Leilani Simon (who was charged last month with the murder of her son, 20-month-old Quinton Simon) was arrested today. Billie Jo Betterton, publicly known as Billie Jo Howell, was arrested and booked into the Chatham County Detention Center on hold for the Chatham County Juvenile Court System. Betterton was the legal guardian of Quinton, and Quinton’s brother Zane, at the time of the toddler’s disappearance.

Update (November 21, 2022) The Chatham County Police Department announced that they have arrested and charged 22-year-old Leilani Simon for the murder of her son, Quinton, after remains were found in a Waste Management landfill on Friday.

This afternoon, Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley made the announcement that investigators had discovered human remains and that they are believed to be those of the toddler. Officers searched the landfill for a month to locate Quinton’s remains. Initial testing at the FBI lab in Quantico revealed that the remains were human.

In a press release, Chief Hadley expressed gratitude to the FBI and local law enforcement agencies for their help in the case and in locating Quinton’s remains. Searchers sorted through 1.2 million pounds of trash to find the toddler’s body.

Leilani Simon was booked into the Chatham County Detention Center. She is charged with malice murder, concealing the death of another, false reporting, and making false statements regarding Quinton’s death and disappearance. She will remain in jail pending a bond hearing.

The remains believed to be Quinton’s are undergoing further testing for confirmation.

Update (October 12, 2022 @ 10:22 PM) Police announced this evening they believe Quinton Simon is deceased and named his mother, Leilani Simon, as a suspect in his death and disappearance. No arrests have been made. Earlier today, members of the FBI along with a team of search dogs continued the investigation at the home where Quinton was last scene.

Update (October 11, 2022) Chatham County Police released a statement today saying they have seized evidence they believe will allow them to move forward with the case. Police are now analyzing the evidence. They continue to investigate and follow all leads to find Quinton and bring him home.

Update (October 5, 2022) The FBI and multiple local agencies are assisting Chatham County Police as they continue to search for a 20-month-old child, Quinton Simon, who was reported missing from his grandmother’ home.

Quinton was reported missing Wednesday morning. His mother, Leilani Simon, and her boyfriend, Daniel Youngkin, said that he was last seen in the home at 6:00 AM when Youngkin woke up. When the toddler’s mother couldn’t find him at 9:00 AM, she called police.

Chatham County Police closed off sections of Gerrard Avenue and Buckhalter Road to search for the toddler. Liberty County K-9 units and mounted police helped search for the toddler, as well. Drones and dive teams have also aided in the search.

Chatham County Police say detectives are working up to 20-hour days searching for Quinton, and they are holding on to hope that he is found alive.

Chief of Police Jeff Hadley said during a press conference, “there is no evidence of foul play, but everything is on the table.” The chief also stated that so far, the parents are victims, and as a father of six, he would be terrified to find himself in their position.

Billie Jo Howell is Quinton’s grandmother and legal guardian. Howell was away at the time Quinton went missing. The children were in her home with their mother and her boyfriend. Howell stated that she was in the process of evicting the couple from her home. She spoke with a local news station regarding the disappearance, saying her daughter, Leilani, “sometimes does really great, and sometimes she doesn’t.”

Quinton is described as wearing a blue Sesame Street shirt and dark bottoms when he was last seen. Police continue to search for Quinton.

From Chatham County Police:

“If you see Quinton, please call 9-1-1. If you have a tip that you think could assist investigators, please visit our crime tip page at

https://police.chathamcountyga.gov/Tips .

You can also call Crime Stoppers at 912-234-2020 or at savannahchathamcrimestoppers.org, where tipsters are anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward.”

Update from Chatham County Police:

We have a new number for tips regarding Quinton Simon. Please call us at 912-667-3134. This goes directly to a detective. If you get the voicemail, please leave a message. This number is only for tips regarding information that might help us find Quinton.

If you think you see Quinton, please call 9-1-1.