Sophia Mason murder investigation concludes with arrest of suspected killer
Above: Sophia Mason’s last school photo (Melissa Harris / KRON 4)
Suspect photos courtesy of Merced Police Department
After a six-month manhunt, Merced police have announced the arrest of the man suspected of killing 8-year-old Sophia Mason of Hayward.
On September 10 of this year, the investigation into Sophia’s murder came to an end with the arrest of 34-year-old Dhante Jackson in the California city of Newark. Jackson had been on the run ever since his identification as one of two primary suspects in Sophia’s murder — the other being her mother, 30-year-old Samantha Johnson, who was arrested early in the investigation and remains in custody.
Following Jackson’s arrest, law enforcement served multiple warrants in the cities of Neward, San Jose, and Merced — the latter being where Sophia’s body was found, and where the investigation began.
Those warrants led to three more arrests: 42-year-old Laronna Larkins, 33-year-old Mayra Gonzalez, and 40-year-old Daberka Thompson, all of whom are suspected of being an accessory to murder by providing aid to Jackson while he was in hiding.
Jackson had been living with Gonzalez at the time of his arrest, police said.
The investigation and arrests are the result of cooperation between multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Merced Area Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team (MAGNET) and the California Department of Justice Special Operations Unit.