CRIME

Death Of Toddler Found In Maryland Park Swing Ruled A Homicide

06/30/2015 05:02 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2015

The death of a 3-year-old boy whose body was in a playground swing being pushed by his mother was ruled a homicide by Baltimore's medical examiner.

Ji'Aire Lee had died from hypothermia and dehydration when police found him just before 7 a.m. on May 22 in a park in La Plata, Maryland, according to the Charles County Sheriff's Office. He was alive when he and his mother arrived at the park two days earlier at 11:15 a.m. on May 20, according to the sheriff's office statement.

Ji'Aire was in the swing continuously until police arrived, but it's unclear at what point he died. The medical examiner's office didn't respond to HuffPost's inquiries, and the sheriff's office declined to elaborate on the investigation.

That timeline is even longer than mentioned in previous reports, which said Romechia Simms had been at the playground overnight with her son. Simms was taken for a medical evaluation because "it didn't appear that she was fully aware of what was going on," a sheriff's spokeswoman told HuffPost in May.

An earlier autopsy failed to determine the cause of death, but the exam performed June 24 by the Baltimore medical examiner "ruled the manner of death a homicide," the sheriff's office said.

There were no obvious signs of trauma on Ji'Aire when officers found him, the sheriff's office said.

Neither Simms nor anyone else has been arrested, but the case will be presented to a grand jury next week so a potential indictment is looming, according to Kristen Ayers, an executive assistant for the Charles County state's attorney.

Concerns about Simms' alleged erratic behavior arose earlier this year when the boy's father, James "Donnell" Lee, sought expanded custody.

Simms was hospitalized for four days after Ji'Aire's death. She and Lee sat beside each other at their child's funeral, according to The Washington Post.

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