An 8-year-old girl was lying dead in a bathtub for over a month before authorities found her body, it has been revealed.
Police released “gruesome details” over the “brutal and senseless murder” of Sophia Mason after the man suspected of the crime, 34-year-old Dhante Jackson, was arrested after six months on the run.
The “gruesome discovery of Sophia Mason’s lifeless body” happened on March 11 in Jackson’s home in Merced, California, more than a month after she was initially listed as missing, but relatives told cops they had not been in contact with the girl since December.
Mason’s mother and Jackson’s girlfriend, Samantha Johnson, was already in police custody on prior child abuse charges from 2021 at the time of the discovery and was subsequently charged with her murder, along with Jackson.
Jackson was nabbed in Newark, California, on Saturday after six months on the run, helped by several women to evade authorities, authorities said.
Dhante Jackson was arrested in Newark after being on the run for 6 months. He is facing murder and child abuse charges in the killing of 8-year-old Sophia Mason of Hayward @KPIXtv
📷@MercedPolice https://t.co/YMDplrhcso pic.twitter.com/OD0W42yVcg
— Betty Yu (@BettyKPIX) September 11, 2022
At a press conference on Sunday, police said three women helped Jackson keep out of sight of officials as he moved between hideouts from Merced to the Bay Area, then to Southern California, only to return to the Bay Area.
Those women have since been charged with accessory to murder after the fact for providing “money, shelter and transportation” to Jackson.
Police named those women as San Jose resident Daberka Thompson, Merced resident Laronna Larkins, and Newark resident Mayra Gonzalez. Cops said Jackson was living Gonzalez at the time of the arrest.
Merced Police Lt. Joe Perez described how Mason was “subject to long term physical abuse” by her mother and Jackson. She was also subjected to sexual abuse. He revealed how the little girl had been “deceased at the residence for over a month” and that she was forced to live in a shed in the backyard as well as a closet inside the home. CBS News revealed she had been found in the tub.
She was also malnourished, the coroner noted.
“In my 20 years of law enforcement this case is the most disturbing and horrific I’ve seen,” Lt. Joe Perez said, his voice cracking.
“To know what that poor little angel went through by the hands of pure evil breaks my heart. Most of us here standing are mothers and fathers and we cherish our children, we’ll never understand how this could happen to a beautiful child who just wanted to be loved.
“Our thoughts and our prayers go out to precious Sophia and her family as they continue to mourn, even though there is nothing we can do to bring Sophia back, I hope the arrest of Jackson will inch Sophia’s family closer to closure and ultimately get justice for Sophia.”
State Attorney General Rob Bonta said Sunday “those accused of her murder must pay a steep price for their abhorrent crimes. Let today serve as a reminder that when a horrendous crime like this is committed we will leave no stone unturned to secure justice.”