California family seeks answers after teen found dead along side of freeway

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A vigil to honor Tioni Theus, a 16-year-old whose body was found alongside a freeway in Los Angeles, was held Wednesday evening, as local law enforcement continued to investigate her death.

“How does a 16-year-old girl end up shot on the side of the freeway, and there’s little community outrage?” the Theus family asked at the vigil, which was held outside a Los Angeles Police Department station in South Los Angeles, FOX 11 of Los Angeles reported.

“We’re talking about a 16-year-old. We’re not talking about an adult,” added Lakeshia Barrett, Theus’ cousin, in a video of the vigil that was uploaded to social media. “She was a child. She meant something to her family.”

The California Highway Patrol initially discovered the 16-year-old’s body on an onramp of Interstate 110 the morning of Jan. 8. The teenager was last seen by her family the day before, on Jan. 7, when she told her father that she was meeting a friend to attend a party. She never returned. 

“To be left on the side of the road. Sixteen years of age. It’s just insanity,” said Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore, in the video. “There’s evil that’s behind that, to take a life, a young promising life.”

Theus’ family shared that she was a straight-A student, who loved to dance and golf. 

The case comes amid other high-profile deaths in the city, spurring criticism for Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon.

Gascon first took office in December 2020, and critics have said his progressive directives have emboldened criminals.

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