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Man accused of killing 8-year-old California girl arrested after monthslong manhunt

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(HAYWARD, Calif.) — The suspect accused of killing an 8-year-old Hayward, California, girl earlier this year was caught by police on Saturday, California officials said.

Dhante Jackson, 33, was arrested in Newark, California, after being on the run for six months, after allegedly killing Sophia Mason, according to California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

“The pain of losing a child is unimaginable — especially when that child was a victim of abuse. We grieve with Sophia’s family and loved ones, and acknowledge that she should be here with us now — playing, learning and growing up,” Bonta said in a statement.

Jackson was charged with first-degree murder and with willfully harming or injuring a child, arrest records show.

According to Bonta, Sophia’s body was found in Jackson’s home on March 11 during an investigation by the Merced and Hayward Police departments.

On March 12, while in custody on child abuse charges from 2021, Samantha Johnson, Sophia’s mother, told investigators about the alleged abuse Sophia faced that led to her death, including living in a shed in Jackson’s yard and sexual and physical abuse, Bonta said in the statement.

The Merced’s district attorney charged Johnson, 30, with child abuse and first-degree murder in March.

Law enforcement officials also arrested and charged three people for allegedly helping Jackson avoid arrest by providing shelter and financial support, Merced PD said.

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