South LA

‘She Meant Something': Vigil Held for Teen Found Dead on 110 Freeway

"Our babies cannot end up on the side of a freeway," said the leader of one community organization. "That’s insane!"

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Demands for justice are growing louder in South Los Angeles, after a local girl was killed and her body was dumped on the 110 Freeway.

The early January killing of Tioni Theus is a California Highway Patrol case because her body was found on the side of the road. Ten days later, no one has been arrested.

Her community says that has to change.

"She was thrown on the side of the freeway like trash and she's a child!" cousin Lakesia Barrett said at a vigil for the victim on Tuesday night.

"She meant something to her family!"

Barrett's pain was felt by everyone at the vigil.

Tioni's father, Darien Jackson, says his 19-year-old son was killed five years ago. Now, he's dealing with that loss all over again.

"It don’t get no easier," Jackson said. "It gets harder. Now I lost my daughter at the age of 16. It just don’t make no sense. Sixteen years old. It just hurt."

A family is mourning the loss of a 16-year-old who was murdered along the 110 freeway. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Jan. 14, 2022.

Relatives say Tioni turned to the streets after her mother was critically hurt in a 2019 hit-and-run accident. Her mother remains hospitalized to this day.

"She meant something to her mother who can’t be here," Barrett said of Tioni. "She meant something to her cousins who are here. Yes, 16-year-olds have problems. What 16-year-old didn’t? But the people who took her life got a chance to get it right. She don’t."

Getting Tioni's killers to surrender, or the streets to give them up, is now a priority for South LA's gang interventionists.

"Public safety is all of our responsibility! We’ve got to be unapologetic," said Aquil Basheer of the California LA Peace Builders Collective.

"Our babies cannot end up on the side of a freeway," said Khalid Shah of Stop the Violence. "That’s insane!"

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore was also at the vigil, supporting the call for justice for Tioni, yet another gunshot victim.

"The fact is that this murder is under CHP jurisdiction," Moore said. "We’ll join with them, but I thought it was important tonight to be here for a family who lost a 16-year-old daughter, a cousin, a niece. And they're right! This event came and left, and so many people in LA were unaware of it."

The LA County coroner says Tioni Theus died of a gunshot wound to the neck. The location of her death, and the person or people who killed her, are not yet known.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the CHP.

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