According to authorities, her body was found at the 110 Freeway on the Manchester Avenue onramp near South Figueroa Street and her family hadn’t seen her since the day before. Theus, who was shot in the back, told relatives she was going to a party to meet a friend but did not return home.
A reward for any information surrounding the death of Tioni Theus has been issued by multiple city officials. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office has pledged $50,000, The Los Angeles City Council added another $50,000, and The L.A. County Board of Supervisors added $10,000; totaling $110,000.
During a press conference, Dist. Atty. George Gascón appealed to the public to help officials solve Theus’ tragic murder and help officers track down her killer. Gascón also revealed that there is evidence suggesting Theus might have been a victim of human trafficking, but would not go into any further detail.
“We need the public’s help,” said Gascón during the press conference. “Please help bring Tioni’s murderer to justice, and if you have any information, please contact the California Highway Patrol.”
According to Thues’ cousins, she had been pulled into prostitution and theft by a man she met on the social media platform Instagram, but do not believe she was a victim of sex trafficking.
“I’m not going to make it and say my baby was perfect, but not horrible either,” said her cousin Senia Theus. “She was taken away too soon. We were always fighting for that kid. We just wanted her to be a teenager.”
Her family also revealed that Tioni was no angel, but did not deserve for her life to be taken.
“We’re not pretending that Tioni was an angel,” said her cousin Nafeesah Kincy. “She faced trauma. I want to humanize her. I don’t want her to be seen as a prostitute or a runaway or somebody that people feel like, ‘Oh well, they live that lifestyle.’”
According to the FBI, 40% of sex trafficking victims were identified as Black women. Traffickers also admitted in an interview with the Urban Institute, that they believe trafficking Black women would land them less jail time than trafficking White women if caught.
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