Authorities in California have arrested the 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. According to a news release from the office of California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the girl’s body was found in Jackson’s Central Valley home in March a few days after her relatives reported her missing. The relatives told police they had not had contact with the girl since December, which led local police at the time to arrest Sophia’s mother, Samantha Johnson, on a warrant stemming from a child abuse case the previous year.
According to the news release from the Attorney General’s office, Johnson shared with investigators after her arrest the 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. Jackson and Johnson had been in a romantic relationship. 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.
On Sunday, local police shared the grim news that Sophia had been dead for at least a month before she was found, and her death has been ruled a homicide by the Merced County coroner’s office. After finding Sophia’s body the Merced County District Attorney’s Office charged Johnson with child abuse and homicide for the child’s murder. Johnson has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her.
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