Neighbors of Leilani Simon, the Georgia mom charged in the disappearance and murder of her toddler son, are “glad” she has been arrested.
“From the first day it just did not feel right,” Gerri McCusker told WTOC Monday.
McCusker lives near the Savannah home where Leilani, 22, reported her 20-month-old son, Quinton Simon, missing on Oct. 5.
She was arrested Monday afternoon after police confirmed the discovery of remains believed to be Quinton’s Friday.
“I was happy. I’m glad that they’ve arrested her. It’s just been been heartbreaking and this is the best news that’s come out of that situation,” McCusker added.
Leilani was named the prime suspect in her son’s disappearance just days after he went missing, when Chatham County Police confirmed they believed the toddler was deceased.
In the weeks since the disappearance, Leilani and her family aroused further suspicion through their inconsistent statements and bizarre partying during the investigation.
In one interview with police, Leilani’s mother Billie Jo Howell admitted that her daughter — who has two other young children — “hasn’t always done the right thing.”
But in an interview with WTOC aired earlier this month, Leilani vehemently maintained her innocence.
“I’ve been here everyday since [Quinton went missing]. I’m not running and I’m not hiding,” she said tearfully.
“If something comes up that I am at fault, I will take myself to that police station.”
Meanwhile, another neighbor said they were struggling to cope with the emotional weight of the case, even in the wake of the arrest.
“I still cry. They’ll show a picture of [Quinton] on TV and I’ll cry,” the unnamed neighbor told WTOC.
“It happened right around my birthday. That was the most miserable birthday I’ve ever had.”
In addition to malice murder, Leilani is also charged with concealing the death of another, making a false crime report, and false statements, Chatham County Police announced.
“We have been telling you for weeks all of our evidence pointed to his mother being responsible for his death and disappearance and his remains being found in the landfill,” Police Chief Jeff Hadley told the press Monday.
Leilani is expected court Tuesday afternoon, where it will be decided if she receives bond in time for the holidays.
“She doesn’t deserve a Thanksgiving,” Chief Hadley insisted. “Quinton deserves that.”
Chief Hadley said he and other officers involved in the case are also still grappling with the emotional toll of the investigation.
“You also have a lot of general emotions as a human being and someone who has children,” he lamented.
“What happened to this 20-month-old child is unthinkable,” Will Clarke, Senior Supervisor for the FBI’s Savannah and Brunswick Offices, added.
“No child should be harmed by anyone let alone the person in their lives that should be their protector.”