Teen Found Dead on Freeway Speaks To Black Girl Vulnerability in South Central

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South Central, Los Angeles–The family of Tioni Theus are asking for answers after the 16-year-old was found deceased last Saturday, on the on-ramp of the 110 freeway on Manchester near Figueroa. 

Before life got heavy due to circumstances out of her control, Theus was your average teenage girl. Vibrant, youthful with a smile that could light up a room. She liked to dance, sing and was a nice person who loved joking around.

Her mother loved her deeply but one day, her family dynamics changed almost instantly. Theus was a Compton resident attending Centennial High School, according to her family.

“No one is going to do it. I am going to do it, to make sure she gets justice. It’s been kind of stressful. Sometimes I can’t go to sleep. The days go by fast. It’s Wednesday and her body was found on Saturday,” shared Theus’ cousin who chose not to be identified for this article, but wanted to make sure the story of her cousin was told. 

She says that she saw Theus last Friday and received a call the next day that her cousin had been killed. The news came as a surprise to her, and was shared by a friend who saw it on a social media post.

“Her mom is in a convalescent home in Whittier. The daddy acts like he doesn’t care. He aint trying to push it hard. It would have been on the news. Nobody even knew. It took me having to call A Million Hits.”

Theus’ mother was badly injured following a motorcycle accident recently and needed assisted living support. The transition was taking a toll on Theus, who was forced to live with her father. According to her cousin, Theus had a rocky relationship with siblings on her fathers side.

“I feel disappointed like I should have kept her under my wing. My cousin was going through some things from her past relationships and her being on the streets. She was on Long Beach Blvd and Figueora selling her body. Meeting up with these dudes giving her money thinking they loved her.”

When asked if Theus’ mother had been contacted yet about the death of her daughter, her cousin said the ‘accident’ messed her up so bad and she probably wouldn’t understand.’

“I would tell Tioni, No one doesn’t love you, your family loves you. The streets are the streets. You don’t have to be out here doing none of this, being in these abusive relationships with men who want to put their hands on you, you are too young.

She would call me and say I’m sleeping in the bando or the park and I would have to go pick her up. She would be ready to bust out into the wind and just go.”

When someone is found deceased, their partners usually become people of interest and Theus’ family suspect whoever did this was someone she knew or was dating. 

“Whoever was with her has her phone. Her facebook messenger says active and people are  reading her messages. Someone declined when I tried to video call.”

An ex-boyfriend of Theus says he has not seen her in weeks and broke up with her prior to the new year. 

Her cousins would like to see an investigation into Theus’ death or for her killer to come forward. They also ask for community support in bringing light to the death of young, Black girls as well as women in South Central, Los Angeles. 

“She just wanted to be around her mom all the time. She wished her mom was better and she wouldn’t be in the situation she was in.”

Photos: Facebook

Slauson Girl is a South Central native who has a love for journalism, history and all things Hip-Hop. She holds a B.A in Critical Race & Gender Theory & a Minor in Journalism. Follow Me on IG @Slausongirl

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