The father of a toddler who was found dead while in the custody of his mother, who had been pushing him in a swing for hours, is speaking out about the 3-year-old’s death.
James Lee says the mother of Ji’Aire Lee was “not fit” to take care” of their son, MyFoxDC reports.
“I’m not saying she is an unfit parent, but at this particular time, she wasn’t fit to take care of our son,” Lee told the news station. “When I presented my case, I felt like [the judge] should have looked more in depth of what was being said rather than trying to ice it over so we could co-parent,” Lee said of his appeal to gain custody for his son.
He continued, expressing the loss he feels in the wake of his son’s passing.
“That’s my little man — he loved having fun just like me,” he said. “He’ll always be — that’s my little man.”
Ji’Aire was found dead in the swing set at Wills Memorial Park in La Plata on Friday, police say. His mother, Romechia Simms, had been pushing the deceased boy in the swing for some time before authorities discovered them. Simms is currently being treated at a local hospital and faces no immediate charges in connection to her son’s death.
Simms mother, Vontasha Simms, told WUSA 9 that her daughter would “never harm [my] grandson in any type of way.”
“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 told the news site.
Lee told MyFoxDC that just a month ago, he asked for custody of the toddler. The judge, he believes, was not listening to his plea that it was in Ji’Aire’s best interest to be with his father. That was the last time Lee saw his son.
Lee recalled he was supposed to pick up his son on Saturday morning, but was trying to rearrange his plans to pick him up earlier because of scheduling issues. But he was unable to contact the boy’s mother. “I called her all Wednesday night and Thursday morning,” he said. “She didn’t answer the phone. She stopped answering my calls. Friday morning on the way to work, her mother calls me up and says my son is gone.”
Authorities have not revealed the cause of death, although an autopsy was performed on the small child. A GoFundMe has been set up for Ji’Aire’s funeral expenses.