A funeral is scheduled for Thursday for a 16-year-old girl whose body was left near a Southern California highway after being fatally shot.
The service for Tioni Theus comes a day after rewards for information in the investigation rose to $115,000.
“It’s overwhelming that so many people have come out, and the testimony this little girl has brought to the world,” said Uncle Mavin Kincy.
Relatives of Tioni and a group of community activists are planning a press conference before the noon funeral at Winston Mortuary in Los Angeles.
Tioni’s body was discovered on January 8 on the side of the 110 Freeway on the Manchester Avenue on-ramp near South Figueroa Street. She was last seen on January 7 after telling a family member she was meeting a friend and going to a party, officials said.
The state on Wednesday added $50,000 to a growing reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his killer. The county board of supervisors on Tuesday approved a $10,000 reward in the case. Los Angeles City Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson and
Curren Price moved a motion for the city to offer an additional $50,000. This motion should be approved next week.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón told a press conference that there is evidence that Tioni may have been a victim of human trafficking.
“We need the public’s help,” Gascón said. “Please help bring Tioni’s killer to justice, and if you have any information, please contact the California Highway Patrol.”
Gascón did not provide details about the human trafficking allegation. The girl’s cousins spoke about Tioni last week with the Los Angeles Times.
“We certainly don’t claim that Tioni was an angel,” her cousin Nafeesah Kincy told The Times. “She suffered a trauma. I want to humanize it. I don’t want her to be seen as a prostitute or a runaway or someone that people think “Oh, well, they live that lifestyle.”
“There are so many young women here who are physically and sexually victimized and exploited. So he’s my cousin today. But it could be your cousin, your daughter, your friend tomorrow.
The CHP asked anyone with information about his murder to call the agency at 323-644-9557.