The death of a young boy found in a swing at a Maryland park has been ruled a homicide.
In May, authorities found a mother pushing her dead toddler in a swing for two days straight.
Romechia Simms and her son, 3-year-old Ji’Aire Donnell Lee, arrived at Wills Memorial Park in La Plata, Maryland, around 11:15 a.m. on May 20, when she began pushing him on a swing. Two days later, a concerned resident called authorities after noticing that the woman had been pushing her son for an unusually long time. Sheriff’s deputies went to the park around 7 a.m. on May 22 to check on Ji’Aire, according to Diane Richardson, a spokeswoman for the Charles County Sheriff’s Office. “It was instantly clear the child was dead,” she said, noting that the officers cut the swing seat and removed the body, intending to give the child first aid.
The body bore no signs of trauma, authorities said, adding that the boy, who was nearing his fourth birthday, died from dehydration and hypothermia.
Richardson stated that May 21 was “rather chilly and it drizzled all night.” According to NBC Washington, the temperature that night fluctuated between 58 and 50 degrees, which is below normal for that area in late May.
Authorities took Simms to a nearby hospital for a medical evaluation, NBC Washington reports.
Simms’ mother, Vontasha Simms, told WUSA 9 that her daughter “would never harm my grandson in any type of way. You know, I just believe she had some type of mental illness, some type of mental break that came upon her where she wasn't able to get herself out of that situation," she said.
James Lee, Ji’Aire’s father, had been worried that Romechia was suffering from an untreated mental illness and wanted her to get help. He believed that he was a better parent at the time but was unable to take legal action.
Two days before authorities found Ji’Aire, Simms called Lee, telling him that he needed to come get his son immediately, but he stopped answering her calls when he got off work.
"It's a very sad and tragic situation for the mother, her family, the officers," Richardson said.
Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office will review the case.