The babysitter of the 20-month-old Georgia boy missing since last week said in a new interview that she was supposed to watch the toddler and his brother the day he vanished — but received a cryptic message that left her alarmed.
“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 she doesn’t work,” Diana McCarta told WSAV, referring to 22-year-old Leilani, whose son Quinton Simon went missing in Savannah on Oct. 5.
Police said the boy was last seen about 6 a.m. and was reported missing to police after 9 a.m. the next day, according to WJCL.
“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,” she told WSAV.
The babysitter said she had been watching Quinton and his sibling, Zane, for about six months before the disappearance.
“My heart is broken,” she told the outlet. “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.”
She added: “The police did a really good job of looking and where does a 1-year-old go? They’ve covered a lot of ground.”
The mystery surrounding the boy’s disappearance has been “horrible,” McCarta told WJCL.
“I keep seeing — picturing his face. I can’t sleep at night because I see his face smiling at me the last time I seen him,” she told the local ABC affiliate.
Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley said investigators have found no evidence that foul play was involved in the boy’s disappearance.
“We’re going to hold out hope that he’s still alive, that we can find him and bring him home safe to his parents,” he said.
The department and the FBI have deployed K-9 teams, drones, helicopters, officers on horseback and heat-detecting technology in the search for Quinton.
The boy lives in the house with his mom, his 3-year-old brother, his mother’s boyfriend and his maternal grandparents, local ABC affiliate WJCL reported.
His grandparents, Billie Jo and Thomas Howell, have legal custody of Quinton and his older brother, according to the station.
“She hasn’t always done the right thing,” Billie Jo Howell said of her daughter in an interview with the station. “Sometimes she does really great, sometimes she doesn’t … I don’t know if I can trust her — I don’t.”
Court records obtained by WJCL show that Billie Jo Howell attempted to evict the child’s mother and her boyfriend from her home in early September.
Cops have responded to the home twice in the last two years, according to the Chatham County Police Department. The department didn’t provide details on those calls, but said neither was for previous reports of a missing child.
Police said last week there was no evidence that Quinton was abducted and that his case doesn’t appear to be a custody dispute.