Grandmother of 8-year-old Sophia Mason Who Was Found Dead, Sues Alameda County Alleging Child Services Didn’t Do Their Job

It has been over a year since Sophia Mason was found dead in the bathtub of her mother’s and her mother’s boyfriend’s residence.

The 8-year-old’s grandmother has filed a lawsuit against Alameda County, claiming social workers failed to investigate several child abuse claims made within the 14 months before her death.

According to Yahoo News, the young girl was reported missing in March 2022 by an aunt who was suspicious about not seeing her niece since 2021. A few days later, Merced Police found the girl’s dead body in a locked bathroom where the child stayed with her mother, Samantha Johnson, 31, and her mother’s boyfriend, Dhante Jackson, 34. Reportedly, Mason had been dead for about a month when officials located her.

Johnson and Jackson were arrested and taken into custody at Merced County Jail on charges of murder and child abuse.

As the couple awaits an evidentiary hearing scheduled for early June, Johnson has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

“Her mother had a difficult life and perhaps some mental or intellectual disabilities, but she did not display a great amount of interest in Sophia for most of her life,” Carly Sanchez, an attorney for the grandmother, Silvia Johnson, said. “So grandma stepped in to take care of her and raise her.”

“The family and the grandmother are horrified to be in this position,” Sanchez added. “Their goal and their focus throughout this entire process has been to make sure that this does not happen to other children in Alameda County.”

Reportedly, Mason’s grandmother, who had custody of her from ages one to seven, filed the wrongful death lawsuit against the Alameda County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) last month.

The Mercury News reported that Hayward investigators disclosed that Mason suffered sexual and physical abuse. According to hundreds of pages of new records released by the court, the girl was malnourished while in the mother’s care, who reportedly took Mason back from the grandmother to live with her and Jackson. The lawsuit alleges that DCFS received child abuse hotline referrals within a few weeks of Mason’s return under the mother’s custody. The referrals reportedly advised DCFS that the child was being abused and neglected while in her mother’s care.

“Despite the fact that Sophia was disclosing abuse, the county did nothing to help her,” Sanchez alleged. She added that law enforcement has refused to release the coroner’s report or autopsy to the family, citing the pending criminal case.