SAN DIEGO – A man arrested in North Carolina on suspicion of murdering his toddler stepson, who was reported missing from a Balboa Park-area playground 14 years ago, returned to San Diego from North Carolina this weekend to face the charges.
Tieray Dawayne Jones, 37, was booked into San Diego Central Jail downtown at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Sheriff’s online jail records. He was being held in lieu of $5.1 million bail and was scheduled to appear in the San Diego Superior Court Felony Arraignment department Tuesday morning.
Jones was taken into custody Monday in Rocky Mount, N.C. on suspicion of killing 2-year-old Jahi Turner, and whose body has not been found.
He was charged with one count of first degree murder and one count of felony assault on a child causing death.
Authorities declined to disclose what led to the belated arrest in the high-profile case, which had proved so devoid of developments that it began to seem to be one that likely would never be solved.
The suspect reported the youngster missing on April 25, 2002. At the time, he lived in a Golden Hill apartment with Jahi and the child’s 18-year-old mother, Navy sailor Tameka Jones.
The stepfather told police he had brought Jahi to a park at Cedar and 28th streets, left him with a woman and several other children to get a soda from a nearby vending machine and returned to find them all gone.
Authorities at the time declined to comment on news reports that Jahi possibly had not been to that playground at all that day and that the suspect had reportedly failed a lie-detector test.
The boy’s disappearance prompted weeks of intensive searches of canyons, fields and neighborhoods in the area, as well as a grueling weeklong sweep of the Miramar Landfill.