What Happened To 2-Year-Old Jahi Turner?
The child's stepfather told police they were at a playground when Jahi disappeared back in April 2002.
Police have long suspected foul play, and Jahi Turner’s stepfather, Tieray Jones, even faced trial for his alleged murder, but there is still no resolution in the case of what happened to the 2-year-old boy while his mother was deployed with the Navy on April 25, 2002.
Tameka Jones’ deployment on the USS Rushmore off the coast of San Diego, California, was set to be a weeklong training mission, but she’d been gone just four days when the unthinkable happened.
Tieray called 911 to report that he and Jahi had been playing at a park in San Diego’s Golden Hill neighborhood when the child said he was thirsty. Tieray told authorities that he left Jahi at the sandbox and walked to a nearby vending machine. When he returned, the child was gone.
Tieray was also able to get an emergency call to Tameka, and she rushed home as soon as she could.
According to reports, police almost immediately suspected Tieray was being less than truthful about what happened before Jahi disappeared. Investigators tracked down everyone who had been at the park that day, and nobody recalled seeing Jahi or Tieray. They also realized that the vending machine Tieray said he walked to was well over 100 yards away, so somebody at the park would have noticed a child alone for that long. Additionally, investigators wondered why they traveled to a park more than a mile from their apartment complex when there was a playground there.
The unease grew as Tameka told police that she called to check on Jahi on April 23, two days prior to his disappearance and that Tieray told her the child had wet the bed the previous night and then later bumped his head on a dresser when he fell down. That was the last time she’d talked to him prior to getting the call about his disappearance.
Witnesses from the apartment complex reportedly told police that they’d seen Tieray making multiple trips out of the apartment on April 24, and that he was carrying large bags of trash as he went. Most of the April 24 trash was already gone to the landfill by the time Jahi was reported missing, but authorities were able to recover some of the child and his mother’s clothing in dumpsters at the apartment complex. Additionally, they also found the child’s blood on a shirt and a blanket in the apartment.
Despite an exhaustive search, Jahi’s body was never discovered, and in 2004, authorities announced there wasn’t enough evidence to charge anybody in the case, according to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
That changed in 2015 when police asked Tameka, who had since divorced Tieray, to call and ask him if he knew what happened to Jahi. Tieray reportedly mentioned something about an accident in that phone call and was arrested for Jahi’s murder in 2016.
Justice, however, still did not come. The jury deadlocked in a 10-2 vote in favor of a not-guilty verdict at the conclusion of a lengthy 2018 trial, and the judge ruled later that there wasn’t enough evidence to retry the case.
Jahi’s body has still never been found.
Tiara McWilliams had tried in vain to get her daughter, Ameera Deadrick, back from her father for years after a summer trip turned into a permanent arrangement.