Father fought for custody of toddler found dead on a swing

Ji'Aire Lee-gofundme 2
Photo: Ji’Aire Lee – GoFundMe

A tragic scene played out  at the start of the Memorial Day holiday that has received national attention in La Plata, Maryland. Early Friday morning police responded to a call of unusual activity at a local playground. Apparently Romechia Simms was seen pushing her child on a swing for several hours; when police arrived at the scene it was determined her child, Ji’Aire Lee, age 3, was dead.

The father of Ji’Aire Lee attempted to get full custody of his son before he was found dead in the swing. James Lee told media that he did not want to cut the mother Romechia Simms out of his son’s life but he did want her to get help.  Lee recognized that Romechia was having emotional issues but the judge, according to Lee, felt  his son would be better off with his mother. That is when Romechia Simms left to live with her son at a motel in Waldorf, Maryland. Last Wednesday the distraught father stated that he started to get phone calls from Simms to come pick her and his son up from the motel because she was having problems with her mother Vontasha Simms. By the time Lee got off work to attempt to pick the pair up he stated that Simms stopped answering her phone, on Friday morning he got a call from Vontasha Simms telling him his son was dead.

Law enforcement stated that she could have been there since the previous day pushing the toddler in the swing set. It was reported that the toddlers body had to be cut from the swing by the fire department. The grandmother of the toddler, Vontasha Simms, stated to local media “Romechia 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.” According to the grandmother Romechia Sims was diagnosed with a mental illness about 3 months ago and was seeking medical help for her illness. Compounding the stress of her illness was the fact that she and Ji’Aire were homeless and living in a hotel.  The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses for Ji’Aire.

The police have completed an autopsy on  the child but have labeled his cause of death undetermined while awaiting toxicology results.

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.



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