Dhante Jackson arrested on suspicion of murdering Sophia Mason

A man who was on the run for six months after allegedly killing his girlfriend's 8-year-old daughter was arrested in the Bay Area on Saturday, Hayward police said.

In March, Dhante Jackson, 34, was charged with murder and child abuse in the death of Sophia Mason in Merced, but authorities had not located him.

Sophia's mother, Samantha Johnson, 30, was also arrested and charged with murder and child abuse. She has been in custody since March. 


Samantha Johnson, of Hayward, is being held on suspicion of murder of her 8-year-old daughter Sophia Mason in Merced County. 

Sophia was reported missing by relatives in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Hayward earlier this month. They told police they had not had contact with the girl since December, and that she was known to stay at different locations between Hayward and Southern California.


Sophia Mason. Photo credit: Melanie Verlatti

The missing person report led Hayward police to arrest Johnson on a warrant stemming from a case of child abuse in Alameda County last year, police said.

Statements Johnson made to Hayward police prompted them to ask for assistance from the Merced Police Department, which served a search warrant at the house in Merced where Jackson resides, they said.

MORE: Sophia Mason's family: 'This could have been totally avoided'

Merced police found Sophia’s body in a bathtub, inside a locked bathroom, according to court documents.

Johnson told a Merced police detective that Jackson, her boyfriend, had kept Sophia in a shed outside the Merced house and that the child was subjected to physical and sexual abuse by Jackson. The documents indicate detectives located evidence that abuse happened, the newspaper reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated where Jackson was arrested. Police arrested him in Newark, Calif.