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Family, activists call for reward after 16-year-old girl found dead on side of freeway in South LA

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SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Two weeks since a 16-year-old girl was found dead on the side of the 110 Freeway in South Los Angeles, the victim's family and community activists gathered Saturday morning to call on local and state officials to establish a reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Tioni Theus was found dead the morning of Jan. 8 after drivers reported seeing her body along the southbound 110 Freeway on-ramp on Manchester Avenue, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The teenager had been shot in the neck, according to the coroner's office.

Her family is demanding answers into the killing and urge anyone with information to come forward.

"Whoever knows what happened needs to say something," said the victim's cousin Nafeesah Kincy. "It's just as simple as that. She was a human being. She didn't deserve this."

LOS ANGELES - A 16-year old young lady, Tioni Theus, was found the victim of a homicide on 01.08.2022. The California Highway Patrol Southern Division Special Services Command's Major Crimes Unit is asking anyone with information on the homicide to contact us at 323-644-9557.#CHP pic.twitter.com/INZSS3LirX

— CHP - Los Angeles Communications Center (@chp_la_comm) January 21, 2022

Cousin Rashida Kincy described Tioni as a "vibrant young lady who was just cut from so much that was ahead of her."

A representative from the CHP also spoke at the news conference Saturday.

"If you're from the neighborhood here and you have cameras in your vehicle and you were driving along the route, or if you're driving on the 110 Freeway that morning, please look through your video,'' CHP Capt. Jeff Lofton said. "If you find something during that time period at Manchester and the 110, call our investigators."

RELATED: Family seeks justice for teen found dead along freeway in South LA

Activists say the absence of such a reward in the killing of a young Black girl stands in stark contrast to efforts that led to a $250,000 reward proposed in the search for the killer of 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer, a Pacific Palisades resident and UCLA grad student who was fatally stabbed Jan. 13 inside a boutique furniture store in Hancock Park.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz introduced a motion Tuesday to create a $50,000 reward in the Kupfer case, and private donations later raised the amount to a potential $250,000.Kupfer's alleged killer was arrested Wednesday in Pasadena. It was not immediately clear if anyone would be in line to receive a reward in that case.

On Thursday, the CHP posted photos of Tioni on Twitter and asked for anyone with information about her killing to call the agency at 323-644-9557.

"We're talking about a 16-year-old. We're not talking about an adult. We're talking about a 16-year-old child!" the victim's cousin Lakeshia Barret said during a vigil held Tuesday. "She was thrown on the side of the freeway like trash, and she's a child! She meant something to her family."

The investigation into Theus' murder is being handled by the CHP and LAPD is assisting.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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