A manhunt was underway Saturday for a man wanted in connection with the death of a toddler whose body was discovered inside a central California home during the search for an 8-year-old girl who had gone missing.
It was discovered on Friday at a residence in Merced, several days after relatives of Sophia Mason reported her disappearance to police in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Hayward, claiming they had not heard from her since December and that she was known to travel between various locations in Hayward and Southern California.
Hayward police responded to a missing person complaint and found the girl’s mother, Samantha Johnson, 30, who was arrested on a warrant coming from a case of child abuse in Alameda County last year, according to a statement released Saturday by the Merced Police Department.
According to the document, her comments prompted officers to issue a search warrant at the home in Merced where her 34-year-old boyfriend Dhante Jackson lives, according to the statement.
After word spread about the search of Jackson’s residence, investigators suspect he fled the scene, according to their findings.
Police in Merced stated that they were working to identify the body at this time. The exact cause of death was not disclosed by the authorities.
Johnson was being held pending the outcome of the murder inquiry. According to authorities, she will be taken to the Merced County Jail to face the allegations against her.
In order to apprehend Jackson, a warrant has been issued. Police say he is well-known in the Bay Area for his regular visits.