Missing toddler’s mother in court for hearing on custody of other children

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 4:30 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2022 at 5:15 PM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Quinton Simon’s mother made an appearance in court Monday, but not about Quinton’s disappearance. Instead, the court hearing was about concerns for the safety of her other two children.

It’s been almost two weeks since 20-month-old Quinton Simon disappeared from his Chatham County home. Since then, police have said that they believe Quinton to be dead, though they haven’t recovered his body.

Police say Quinton’s mother, Leilani Simon, is the only suspect in Quinton’s disappearance and presumed death.

Monday, she was in Chatham County Juvenile Court for a preliminary hearing about the custody of Quinton’s two siblings. It was the first public appearance of Leilani since Quinton went missing.

She arrived wearing a mask and a dress and was sitting just feet away from her mother, Billie Howell - though their lawyers were sitting between them.

Billie had custody of Quinton before he disappeared, and still has custody of Leilani’s oldest child who is around three years old.

Leilani and Billie both left the courthouse as quickly as they could after the hearing. There was a large law enforcement presence inside and outside of the courthouse.

The fathers of Leilani’s other children were at the hearing over video chat - as well as other family members. The grandfather of one of Leilani Simon’s other children drove four hours to be at Monday’s custody hearing. He said it was important to be there to support his grandchild. He also said the safety of his grandchild moving forward is at the top of his mind, as his grandchild’s mother is the only suspect in the death of one of her other children.

Judge Thomas Cole presided over the hearings.

When court was called to session, WTOC asked to have a camera in the courtroom, but Judge Cole denied the request and also sealed the hearing from the public.

Cole says he made that decision to protect the privacy and safety of the children involved, though he does understand the public interest in the case.

After he made that decision, WTOC had to leave the courtroom.

The people that stayed in the courtroom are also under a gag order and not allowed to discuss what happened.

Again, Monday’s hearing was over the custody of Leilani’s other two children - who are around six months and three years old.

We do know that legally, these hearings have to take place within three days of a child being removed from a home under emergency order, or DFCS requesting to remove a child.

WTOC has asked for any records pertaining to Monday’s court hearing but weren’t given them because the hearing was sealed. Just to be clear, this was not a criminal hearing and Leilani has not been charged with anything.

WTOC did ask the Chatham County Police Department for any updates in the search for Quinton Simon, and the department responded that they didn’t have any new information to provide.