A mental breakdown and a custody battle were both factors that contributed to the tragic scene in La Plata, Maryland last week, when a woman was discovered pushing her dead 3-year-old on a swing in a local park.
The incident came just weeks after the mother, Romechia Simms argued in a Washington, D.C. court to keep custody of her preschooler, Ji'Aire, after her former boyfriend James Lee attempted to take him from her. Lee had told the court he was concerned about Simms' mental state after seeing her behave erratically in recent months.
“I do not believe she can safely care for our son,” he wrote in his March custody petition, according to The Washington Post. “I am concerned about my child’s safety and well being. I want to make sure that our son is safe.”
Simms, 24, said her breakdown was caused by “an extreme amount of stress weighing heavy on me,” but she said she’d since recovered. “I am now in a much better productive space,” she wrote in April, adding, “I have done everything in my power since moving from D.C. to ensure that my son has the best life that he can have.”
Less than two weeks later, the toddler was found dead at Wills Memorial Park in the early morning hours. Authorities who found Simms and her baby boy said she had been pushing him in a swing for hours, possibly since the previous afternoon. Simms was released from the hospital on Friday (May 29). She was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder.
Ji’Aire’s cause of death is unknown. His body showed no signs of trauma, authorities said, adding that no charges have been filed.
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