At 7AM on Friday, May 22, 2015 deputies of the Charles County Sheriff’s department arrived at Wills Memorial Park in La Plata, Maryland in response to a call reporting a woman who had been swinging a child for an “unusually long period of time”. Although officers had originally believed the child was in need of first-aid, as they approached, “It was instantaneously clear the child was dead.”. The child was identified as three year old Ji’Aire Lee and while there were no clear signs of foul play, investigators are not ruling out the possibility. It is believed the mother may have been pushing her deceased child on the swing all of Thursday night, having arrived that evening.
Reportedly, the boy’s body had to be removed along with the swing which was cut down by firefighters. The body was then sent to the office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy and toxicology test, the results of which have yet to be publicly released.The boy’s mother, 24-year-old Romechia Simms, had been diagnosed with a mental illness three months prior and had been in a custody battle with the Ji’Aire’s father, Donnell Lee, since March of 2015. Mr. Lee was concerned about Romechia’s emotional state and felt it would be better if their son lived with him and only visited his mother. At a recent hearing, the judge advised Ji’Aire would be better off living with his mother. The Wednesday prior to the discovery of Ji’Aire’s body, Romechia had called Donnell and asked him to pick up their son because she was having issues with her mother, Vontasha Simms. By the time Donnell got off work and attempted to come pick up Ji’Aire, Romechia had stopped answering her phone. Romechia Simms and her child were temporarily homeless after moving out of Donnell Lee’s residence and had been living in a motel in Waldorf, Maryland, approximately one mile from Wills Memorial Park.
She had reportedly been suffering from severe depression due to her predicament, in addition to the mental illness which she had been diagnosed with three months prior to her son’s death. After the boy was discovered, Romechia was admitted to a local hospital for a mental evaluation; She was released the following Monday. Romechia’s mother, 47-year-old Vontasha Simms stated that ordinarally, “[Romechia] would never harm my grandson in any 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.”. Vontasha hopes her family’s tragedy will prevent similar situations in the future adding, “I don’t want people to look down upon her; I want people to use the situation as an opportunity to grow, learn from it. Like I said, help your neighbor. If you suffer from mental issues and you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out to somebody.”.
More on this story as it becomes available.
Special Thanks to @Haxan_Aok on Twitter for calling this story to our attention
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