Jahi Marques Turner

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Top Row and Bottom Left and Center: Jahi, circa 2002;
Bottom Right: Age-progression to age 12 (circa 2012)

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: April 25, 2002 from San Diego, California
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date Of Birth: February 10, 2000
  • Age: 2 years old
  • Height and Weight: 2'5, 30 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: African-American male. Black hair, brown eyes. Jahi is ambidextrous. He has a light complexion with eczema in the creases of his body and a scar over his knee.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A long-sleeved blue shirt imprinted with images of Winnie The Pooh and Tigger, blue nylon cargo pants with an orange drawstring and gray Air Jordan shoes.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Jahi moved to the Golden Hill area of San Diego, California on April 21, 2002. He lived with his mother, Tameka Jones, and stepfather, Tieray Dewayne Jones, in United States military housing. Tameka was a sailor in the United States Navy at the time and was deployed aboard the U.S.S. Rushmore while Tieray looked after Jahi. The two apparently slept in the same bed, although the child had a bedwetting problem. Jahi previously resided with his maternal grandmother, Penny Thompson, in Maryland. Tameka took him to California the day before her deployment. Photos of Tameka, Tieray and Thompson are posted below this case summary. Jahi's biological father, Tramane Sampson, lived in Frederick, Maryland and was released from prison shortly before April 2002.

    Tieray told authorities that he and Jahi visited Balboa Park in the Golden Hill area near 28th Street and Cedar Street on April 25, 2002. The playground is in the 2800 block of Beech Street. Tieray said that he left Jahi near the sandbox while he purchased a soda from a nearby vending machine. Tieray stated that a woman and two children were near the area at the time. He claimed that Jahi had vanished by the time he returned. Jahi has never been heard from again.

    An extensive search of the area produced no clues as to Jahi's whereabouts. Authorities announced that Tieray said he left his stepson unattended for approximately 15 minutes; Tieray denied the statement and claimed that Jahi was unchaperoned for less than that amount of time.

    Investigators released a sketch of the woman Tieray saw in the Balboa Park area on the day Jahi disappeared. The image is posted below this case summary. Authorities identified the individual several days later and said that she provided unspecified information concerning Jahi's case. The woman is not a suspect in the child's disappearance. Officials were reportedly unable to locate Jahi's fingerprints on the playground equipment, prompting speculation that the child never visited the area at all. Authorities refused to comment on the reports, but stated that the last confirmed sighting of Jahi took place on April 23, two days prior to his reported disappearance. Tieray has a criminal history including drug charges and failure to pay child support in Maryland. He and Tameka allegedly took polygraph tests after Jahi disappeared. Numerous media outlets reported that Tieray failed the exams, but officials refused to confirm the allegations.

    Tieray was reportedly seen a day before Jahi's disappearance, dragging what appeared to be a large satchel, duffel bag, or garbage bag to a dumpster near his apartment complex. Police do not know what was in the bag; the contents of the dumpster were hauled away before Jahi was reported missing. Investigators have examined Tieray's diary and say some of the entries indicate that Jahi was harmed before his disappearance was reported. Tieray reportedly wrote that he hoped Jahi would forgive him, and described the child as listless and inactive. Other entries, which described an outing in Balboa Park, are believed to have been faked.

    Thompson traveled to San Diego in late April 2002 and initialized her own search for her grandson. Conflicts arose between Thompson's efforts and the continuing searches implemented by additional volunteers. The problems allegedly stemmed from Thompson's "harsh attitude." The volunteer search efforts ceased by early June 2002, as organizers cited creative differences with Thompson. She returned to Maryland by the end of the month. Tameka claimed that her mother took all of the donations intended for Jahi's search efforts, but the accusation has never been verified.

    Tameka and Tieray began working with a retired social worker to search for Jahi during the summer of 2002. Sampson hired a private investigator to pursue his son in September 2002. The detective cited numerous inconsistencies in Tieray's version of events as reason for concern. Tameka and Tieray later moved back to Maryland and ended their relationship. In October 2004, Tieray was arrested for attempted murder, assault and other charges. In January 2005, he was additionally charged with second-degree murder in the case of a Maryland man, John E. "Poochie" Hill. Tieray's trial was just about to begin when prosecutors dropped all the charges against him, as numerous witnesses were unavailable to testify. He later pleaded no contest to assault in another case and was sentenced to five years in prison. Tieray has since been released from prison and still lives in the Frederick, Maryland area.

    Theories abound that Jahi was abducted or other forces were at work in his disappearance. Police have said publicly that they are convinced he is dead, but they do not have enough evidence to file charges against anyone in connection with his presumed murder or even to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is deceased. His case remains unsolved.

    Tameka Jones Tieray Jones
    Left: Tameka Jones; Right: Tieray Jones, circa 2002

    Thompson Sketch of female witness
    Left: Thompson; Right: Sketch of female witness in Balboa Park, 2002

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    San Diego Police Department
    619-531-2844

    OR
    619-531-2000

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    Source Information
    The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
    Nation's Missing Children Organization
    Federal Bureau Of Investigation
    Rino Kids Online
    MSNBC
    KFMB TV-8
    KGTV-10
    The North County Times
    Jahi Turner Is Missing
    About.com: Crime and Punishment
    The San Jose Mercury News
    The Orange County Register
    Operation Lookout
    NBC San Diego
    10 News San Diego's News Leader
    The Child Seek Network
    The Frederick News-Post

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    Updated 7 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated January 1, 2013; picture added, age-progression and details of disappearance updated.

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