A funeral is scheduled Thursday for a 16-year-old girl whose body was left near a Southern California freeway after she was shot and killed.
The service for Tioni Theus comes a day after rewards for information in the investigation increased to $115,000.
“It’s overwhelming that that many people have come out, and the testimony that this little girl has brought to the world,” said uncle Mavin Kincy.
Tioni’s relatives and a group of community activists are planning a news conference before the midday funeral service at Winston Mortuary in Los Angeles.
Tioni's body was discovered Jan. 8 on the side of the 110 Freeway on the Manchester Avenue on-ramp near South Figueroa Street. She was last seen Jan. 7 after telling a family member she was going to meet a friend nd go 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 her 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 have introduced a motion for the city to offer another $50,000. That motion is expected to be approved in the next week.
At a Wednesday news conference, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, had a news conference said there is evidence indicating that Tioni might have have been the victim of human trafficking.
“We need the public's help,'' Gascón said. “Please help bring Tioni's murderer 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're definitely not pretending that Tioni was an angel,'' cousin Nafeesah Kincy told the Times. “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.'
“It's so many young women out here being victimized and being taken advantage of physically and sexually. So, it's my cousin today. But it could be your cousin, your daughter, your friend tomorrow.”
The CHP asked anyone with information about her killing to call the agency at 323-644-9557.