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MERCED, Calif. – The mother of an 8-year-old California girl, reported missing earlier this week, has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a child’s body was found inside a Merced home, authorities confirmed Saturday.

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Meanwhile, authorities are searching for the woman’s boyfriend, who was living at the home where the body was discovered, the East Bay Times reported.

Authorities have not yet identified the deceased child, but investigators told KFSN-TV that the interrogation of 30-year-old Samantha Johnson, mother of missing 8-year-old Sophia Mason, led them to the gruesome discovery.

In addition to the murder charge, Johnson was originally arrested by Hayward police on Thursday on suspicion of obstruction and an outstanding warrant stemming from a 2021 child abuse incident, the TV station reported.

Lt. Joey Perez, a Merced police spokesman, told the Los Angeles Times that Johnson gave suspicious answers when Hayward detectives questioned her about her daughter.

The Merced Police Department has also issued a murder warrant for Johnson’s boyfriend, 34-year-old Dhante Jackson, who is known to frequent the Bay Area and is believed to be on the run after hearing that his home, where the body was found, was being searched by police, the East Bay Times reported.

“This investigation is still ongoing and the exact circumstances surrounding this incident remain under investigation,” the department said in a prepared statement.

Sophia Mason’s relatives last saw her in December, and her aunt reported the child missing March 8 after what she described as a “disturbing” phone call in which Johnson said that she was planning to travel from Merced to the Bay Area without Sophia because she reportedly “gave her away,” the newspaper reported.