Man Who Reported Toddler Missing in '02 Now Arrested

The Jahi Turner case shook San Diego
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2016 4:25 AM CDT

Almost exactly 14 years after the disappearance of 2-year-old Jahi Turner shook San Diego, the man who reported him missing has been arrested. Tieray Jones, the boy's stepfather, was arrested in North Carolina on Monday on suspicion of murder, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. On April 25, 2002, he told police that the boy had disappeared from a playground while he went 150 yards away to get a soda, sparking a massive search that included an extensive sweep of a landfill. Jones, now 37, had been caring for the boy while his 18-year-old wife served on a Navy ship, the AP reports. Jahi had arrived in San Diego from his grandmother's home in Maryland just five days before he disappeared.

"We never gave up on finding justice for Jahi," District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis told reporters on Monday, calling the disappearance "without a doubt one of the highest profile unsolved cases in San Diego County." Jones was considered a suspect in 2002 because of inconsistencies in his story, but officials said at the time that they lacked evidence to charge him. He moved back to his home state of Maryland with his wife in 2003. Authorities, who plan to extradite him to California to face charges including murder and felony child abuse causing death, haven't disclosed what new evidence led to the arrest. (More San Diego stories.)

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