Cops: Toddler Was Alive at Start of 44 Hours on Swing

3-year-old's death ruled a homicide
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2015 2:02 AM CDT

(Newser) – A disturbing development in a case that was horrifying to start with: Police in Maryland say the 3-year-old boy found dead in a park swing as his mother pushed him was alive when she put him in the swing—but that had been almost two days earlier. The Charles County Sheriff's Office says Ji'Aire Donnell Lee died of thirst and hypothermia at some point during the 44 hours that his mother, 24-year-old Romechia Simms, was in the park pushing the boy on the swing, reports the Washington Post. Police say that when they arrived after a call from a worried citizen, "it was instantaneously clear the child was dead."

The boy was found dead on the morning of May 22, following a night when it was "rather chilly and it drizzled all night," a police spokeswoman tells the Baltimore Sun. The death has been ruled a homicide, but authorities say they haven't made a decision on filing charges yet, the Sun reports. Simms' mother says she was diagnosed with mental illness a few months ago. Simms was hospitalized after she was found in the park but released in time for her son's funeral, reports the New York Daily News. Ji'Aire's father sought custody weeks before the death, saying he was worried about his son's safety, the Post reports. The boy was dead just 11 days after a judge decided his parents should share custody.

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