Authorities capture California man accused of killing child whose body was found at his home six months ago

featured image

Daily News | Online News

Authorities on Saturday arrested a California man accused of killing an 8-year-old girl whose body was found in his home six months ago.

After a months-long search and an investigation involving the Department of Justice’s Special Operations Unit, police arrested Dhante Jackson in Newark, California, for the murder of Sophia Mason. The girl’s body was found in Jackson’s Central Valley home in March a few days after her relatives reported her missing, according to a news release from the office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

The relatives told police they had not had contact with the girl since December, according to The Associated Press.

Daily News | Online News Sophia Mason
Sophia MasonHayward Police Department via AP

That report led local police to arrest Sophia’s mother, Samantha Johnson, on a warrant stemming from a child abuse case the previous year, the AP reported.

After her arrest, Johnson shared with investigators details of the abuse her daughter faced from Jackson before her death, which included “being forced to live in a shed in Jackson’s yard and suffering sexual and physical abuse,” according to the news release from Bonta’s office.

Jackson and Johnson had been in a romantic relationship, officials have said.

Court documents show that Merced police found Sophia’s body in a bathtub, inside a locked bathroom in Jackson’s home, after executing a search warrant on the property.

Local police announced Sunday that Sophia had been dead for at least a month before she was found, that she had been malnourished and that her death had been ruled a homicide by the Merced County coroner’s office, the Bay Area News Group reported.

After finding Sophia’s body, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office charged Johnson with child abuse and homicide and issued a warrant for Jackson’s arrest for the child’s murder. The District Attorney’s Office will charge Jackson with homicide, according to Bonta’s office.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her, according to the Associated Press.

It is unclear if Jackson or Johnson have lawyers. NBC News could not immediately reach the Merced County public defender’s office Sunday.

Authorities also charged four other suspects “suspected of aiding Jackson in evading arrest,” Bonta’s office said.

“The pain of losing a child is unimaginable — especially when that child was a victim of abuse,” Attorney General Bonta said in a statement. “We grieve with Sophia’s family and loved ones, and acknowledge that she should be here with us now — playing, learning, and growing up.”

Child-welfare documents obtained by the Bay Area News Group show that Sophia twice told social workers that her mother had choked her and hit her, and that a teacher and a social worker reported concerns over what they thought were signs of abuse.

Sophia’s grandmother, Sylvia Johnson, last week filed a wrongful death legal claim against Alameda County, alleging the Department of Child and Family Services didn’t do enough to protect the girl.

Alameda County has 45 days to respond to the family’s claims, the news group reported Sunday. If no settlement is offered by the county and the claim is rejected, the family has six months to file a lawsuit.

Read More
Share on Google Plus
    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment


Post a Comment