A three-year-old boy who was found dead in a US park over a month ago, had been sitting on a swing for almost two days, according to new details released by police.
Ji’Aire Donnell Lee was found dead in a Southern Maryland park, while his mother was pushing him on the swing, on May 22.
The Charles County Sheriff’s Office have now revealed that they believe he was alive when his mother first put him on the swing, nearly two days before he was found, the Washington Post reports.
The sheriff’s office said the young boy died of hypothermia and dehydration during his long time on the swing. A medical examiner has ruled his death as a homicide.
The autopsy report will now be sent to the county state’s attorney’s office, which will decide whether to file charges against his mother, Romechia Simms.
- Mum found pushing dead toddler on park swing
- Fatal stabbing at caravan park caught on camera
- Alleged wife killer confessed in chilling Facebook post
When police found Ms Simms, pushing the dead boy at Wills Memorial Park they were unsure when and how Ji’Aire had died.
Further investigation reveled that Ms Simms had arrived at the park with her son around 11.15am on May 20.
The Post reports that the 24-year-old who had previously suffered a mental breakdown, then stayed in the park for nearly 44 hours, enduring temperatures as low as 10 degrees.
Police arrived at the scene at 6.55am on May 22, after someone who had spotted the pair at the park the day before, called police to express their concerns.
The account given by police differs from a timeline of event previously offer to the Post by Ms Simms’ mother Vontasha Simms, who claimed the preschooler had gone to the Dollar Store and Burger King with his mother on May 21, before leaving for the park that evening.
When the pair didn’t return, Vontasha caller her daughter at 12.30am on May 22 and was assured that they were on their way home.
However a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said the account was incorrect.
Ms Simms, who reportedly suffered from depression and bipolar disorder, had been hospitalised twice before her son’s death for erratic behaviour. She was also hospitalised after she wad discovered with Ji’Aire in the park, but was released in time for his funeral.
Ji'Aire's father, James "Donnell" Lee, had started trying to get sole physical custody of the boy from Ms Simms in March.
Just weeks before Ji'Aire was found dead, he petitioned for custody of Ji'Aire in DC Superior Court. However the judge ruled that Ms Simms would have custody on weekdays and Mr Lee on weekends.
“I’m not saying she is an unfit parent, but at this particular time, she wasn’t fit to take care of our son,” he told Fox 5 DC in May.
“When I presented my case, I felt like [the judge] should have looked more in depth of what was being said rather than trying to ice it over so we could co-parent.”
Ms Simms and her family had “been struggling for several months with homelessness and mental health issues,” a relative previously admitted on a GoFundMe page established to raise money for Ji-Aire’s funeral expenses.
It will now be up to prosecutors to decide whether or not to bring charges against Ms Simms.
Morning news break – July 1