On June 13, 2011, Rivers returned from work to find Antwan and his mom lying in bed. She hadn’t seen her grandson in weeks.
But Rivers’ longing for her grandson ended that day with him screaming under a pillow and a frantic call to 911.
BSO deputies arrived and took Simmons to Imperial Point Medical Center under the Baker Act. And state child protection workers took Antwan to live with his father, where he remained until the following December, when child protection investigators were called yet again to assess his welfare.
This time, Antwan’s father called BSO on Dec. 28, 2011. Though Hope had pledged to child welfare workers that he would retain custody of the boy — and to protect him from his mother — he told police that he and Simmons were sharing custody. On that day, Hope said, Simmons came to his home, confronted him, and “made verbal threats to harm the child.”
Simmons, police were told, “takes medication for mental issues,” and has been involuntarily committed “on several occasions.”
That day, Hope picked the youngster up at Gentle Hugs Daycare, “causing Destene to become angry,” the report said. “She stated before she left that she would ‘hurt the boy.’”
The state Department of Children & Families was alerted and Antwan was taken from his father’s care after investigators learned he was sharing custody with Simmons.
It appears that Simmons neglected to tell her mother that investigators had removed the child and sent him to live with a maternal aunt.
On Jan. 2, 2012, Rivers called police to report that both Simmons and the boy were missing.
“Rivers has not heard from either of them and states that this is very uncharacteristic,” the report said. Rivers added: “Simmons is going through a child protective investigation and has been distraught.”
Antwan remained with his aunt until recently, when Broward’s privately run foster care agency, called ChildNet, suggested it was time to return him to his mother. In preparation for a reunification with Simmons, a Broward judge, against the objections of a court-appointed advocate, granted unsupervised visits.
Simmons’ first weekend alone with her son began Friday. It ended Monday with Antwan being transported from her home in a mortuary van.