MERCED, Calif. (TCD) -- A mother and her boyfriend face felony charges in connection with her 8-year-old daughter’s death, though only she is in custody.
The Merced County District Attorney’s Office announced in a March 21 statement that they formally charged Samantha Leann Johnson and Dahnte Jackson with murder and child abuse. Johnson was arraigned and will be held without bail, but the District Attorney’s Office said Jackson remains at large.
Johnson’s daughter Sophia Mason was reported missing March 8, according to the Hayward Police Department. Sophia reportedly had not been seen since December, and was "known to stay at different locations ranging between Hayward and Southern California."
Hayward is in the San Francisco Bay area.
Hayward Police said in a statement they searched for Sophia and Johnson at their prior addresses, but they were not located. On March 10, Hayward Police obtained a warrant for Johnson’s arrest and found her at a residence in Newark.
Merced Police were granted a search warrant to look inside a residence near the 500 block of Barclay Way, according to the Hayward Police statement. Merced Police reportedly "conducted at least two outside assists at the address," though no one answered when they previously went.
With the search warrant, Merced Police went inside the home and reportedly found a deceased child. Jackson reportedly lives at the Barclay Way residence.
The Merced Sun-Star reports court documents say that on Feb. 10, Johnson took Sophia out of the shed to take a shower because she was covered in feces. She reportedly heard a "thud" when Jackson was in the bathroom with the girl, and that was the last Johnson saw of her daughter. She reportedly believed Sophia ran away.
Johnson reportedly told investigators Jackson said Sophia "does not want to be with you and does not want to be your daughter anymore." She stopped looking for her daughter after about two weeks.
Police reportedly located Sophia’s body locked in a first-floor bathroom.
Sophia reportedly grew up with her grandmother, but Johnson took her back in 2021. Johnson’s cousin Melissa Harris told KRON-TV that Johnson "had been known to go in and out of prostitution."
Johnson reportedly called her mother — the grandmother that raised Sophia — and allegedly said she "got rid" of Sophia, according to KRON.
Johnson allegedly told her mother, "I was tired of her."