Fugitive Wanted for Murder of 8-Year-Old Sophia Mason Captured

Law enforcement authorities have arrested a man on charges of child abuse and murder in the death of 8-year-old Sophia Mason, whose body was found decomposing in a bathtub on March 11.

Sophia’s mother, Samantha Johnson, was arrested and charged with murder, obstructing an officer, and corporal injury to a child, while her boyfriend, Dhante Jackson, fled when he learned his home was being searched, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

Police in multiple jurisdictions were searching for Sophia beginning in February. She had been living in Hayward, California, with an large support system of family, neighbors, and her grandmother, the East Bay Times reported. But she moved to Merced when her mother came back into her live in 2021.

Investigators eventually found Sophia’s body at Jackson’s home and arrested Johnson. A warrant for Jackson’s arrest was issued, and he has been on the run for six months. He was finally taken into custody Saturday in Newark and will be returned to Merced County, where his bail is expected to be $1 million.

Johnson is also being held on a $1 million bail.

The arrest comes after an intensive investigation by the Bay Area News Group found that county child welfare agencies failed to adequately respond to grave concerns about Sophia’s well-being during the last 18 months of her life. The investigation found that the failures in Sophia’s case appeared to be part of systemic issues with the Alameda County child welfare office.

Merced Police have set a news conference for Sunday morning to provide more information on Jackson’s arrest.

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[Featured image: Sophia Mason/Hayward Police Department]