California authorities arrest a fugitive suspect in the murder of an 8-year-old girl six months ago

Investigators found the body of Sophia Mason at the home of her mother’s boyfriend Dante Jackson in Merced while searching for a missing 8-year-old girl in March. Attorney General Rob Bonta the office of previously announced the capture of Jackson in Saturday’s news release.

According to Perez, investigators found Mason to be malnourished, subjected to ongoing physical abuse, and forced to live in a shed in the backyard of Jackson’s home.

Hayward Police were asked on March 8 to “report a missing boy in danger” by an unidentified family member. According to Hayward officials, police launched an investigation into Mason’s disappearance and within two days arrested Mason’s mother, Samantha Johnson.

According to a City of Hayward statement, “Merced PD subsequently added a murder charge against Johnson, in addition to bodily injury and obstructing an officer’s investigation filed by Hayward PD.

The search for Jackson began shortly after authorities indicted Johnson, Perez said.

“Detectives acted on the evidence quickly to track down Jackson’s whereabouts, but he enlisted the help of several people to aid in his capture,” Perez said.

According to Perez, hundreds of hours of analyzing and deciphering electronic forensic data was “huge” on the subject. Police also used more than 20 search warrants to obtain evidence related to the case, Perez added.

Jackson also had several female acquaintances who provided him with money, shelter and transportation to help him hide, Perez said. Perez added.

Perez said all his efforts “finally paid off” when authorities found Jackson in Newark, Calif., on Saturday and took him into custody.

Jackson was arrested in Newark on Saturday, according to Bonta’s office.

It is unknown if Jackson has an attorney at this time. CNN reached out to the Merced County Public Defender’s Office for more information.

“In my 20 years of law enforcement, this case is the most disturbing and terrifying I have ever seen. Knowing what that poor little angel went through at the hands of pure evil… My heart aches,” said Perez, standing next to him. To Sofia’s photo.

Bonta, who also attended a press conference on Sunday, thanked all the departments that worked to catch Jackson.

“Let us remind you of today. When such a horrific crime is committed, we will do everything in our power to ensure justice. We will continue to pursue you until you are caught.” Bonta said.

CNN’s Colin Jeffrey and Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.


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