Tioni Theus, the 16-year-old girl who was found shot dead near the 110 freeway on January 8, is suspected to have been a victim of human trafficking.
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón spoke at a media briefing Wednesday, saying there was evidence that the incident may have been one of human trafficking.
“Sixteen-year-old Tioni was murdered in cold blood and her killer has yet to be brought to justice,” District Attorney Gascón said. “We are asking for the public’s help in identifying the perpetrator so that we may hold this person accountable.”
California Highway Patrol said it had “exhausted all investigative leads,” and is now asking the public for information on the suspected killer.
Los Angeles city officials proposed up to $60,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Theus’ killer, and on Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom approved an additional $50,000 to be used, bringing the potential reward total to $110,000.
“Under California law, law enforcement agencies may ask the Governor to issue rewards in certain unsolved cases where they have exhausted all investigative leads, to encourage individuals with information about the crimes to come forward,” The governor’s office wrote Wednesday. “Public assistance is vital to law enforcement, and rewards may encourage the public cooperation needed to apprehend those who have committed serious offenses.”
The Compton native was reportedly meeting with an “Instagram friend,” with the intention of going to a party on January 7. Her dead body was found near the Manchester Avenue exit of the 110 freeway in South Los Angeles.
“It is my hope that the rewards shared today help bring forth answers and justice for Tioni’s loved ones and the South LA community that shares the pain of this tragedy,” Supervisor Holly Mitchell said during a briefing Wednesday. “Tioni and her family were robbed of her right to grow up and live a full life. I am asking members of the public that have any information that can help investigators to please step forward and contact the anonymous tip line at (888) 412-7463.”
A Gofundme crowdsourcing campaign was created for Theus’ funeral expenses.