Police are in search of a California man after the body of a child was found in his Central Valley home, authorities said over the weekend.
Jackson is the partner of a woman whose 8-year-old daughter, Sophia Mason, was reported missing last week.
Two different probes have been launched into Sophia’s case: one in Merced, where Jackson lived, and the other in the Bay Area, where a relative reported concern for the child’s wellbeing and whereabouts to Hayward police.
After the relative’s request for help, officers twice visited Jackson’s home in Merced in their search for Sophia and her mother, Samantha Johnson, but no one answered the door, Hayward police said.
After Johnson was arrested, Hayward police said they received information that fingered Jackson’s residence as a likely location for Sophia.
When Merced authorities went back to the residence, they quickly found the body of the young girl.
Johnson now faces a murder charge connected to Sophia’s case, Merced police said. Additionally, she has also been jailed on charges of obstruction of an officer’s investigation and corporal injury to a child.
In 2021, Johnson was the subject of a child abuse investigation – and even had an active warrant from the case. Sadly, no one followed up before the death.
It is not clear if Johnson or Jackson had legal representation, as the public defender’s office in Merced did not respond to a request for comment.
Melonie Verlatti, who knew Sophia since she was born, told us the grim discovery of the body prompted “just complete and total shock.”
“So hard to believe,” she family friend opined.
The Merced County coroner is expected to determine the identification and cause of death over the next few days.
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