HACIENDA HEIGHTS (CBSLA) – The mother of Trinity Loves Jones – a 9-year-old girl whose body was found in a duffel bag near a trail in Hacienda Heights earlier this month – was booked as the second suspect in the child’s murder on Monday, authorities say.
Taquesta Graham was extradited to Los Angeles from Texas on March 14. She has since been being held without bail. Charges are expected to be filed Wednesday, followed by an arraignment, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Graham’s boyfriend Emiel Hunt – who allegedly has a 2005 conviction for child abuse in San Diego – has been charged with Jones’ murder. Hunt was found sleeping in his vehicle in a lot near San Diego International Airport on March 9, according to sheriff’s officials.
Hunt’s arraignment has been delayed until April 16. He remains jailed in lieu of $2 million bail.
If convicted, Hunt faces a sentence of up to 50 years to life in state prison.
The girl’s body was found about 10 a.m. on March 5 at the bottom of an embankment close to Colima Road and the 3400 block of Hacienda Boulevard, near the His Lai Buddhist Temple. The body, which was found by county workers clearing some brush, was partially inside a black roll-away-type duffel, with her head and upper body protruding from the partially zipped bag, authorities said.
As sheriff’s homicide detectives investigated the case, Hunt and Graham were stopped in Hunt’s SUV about 6 a.m. March 8 at a border patrol checkpoint in Hudspeth County, Texas, officials said.
“Graham was arrested for an unrelated warrant and Hunt was released,” according to a sheriff’s department statement that said investigators in Los Angeles County were unaware of the arrest.
After Graham was arrested, Hunt began driving back to California, officials said.
Graham, Hunt and Jones moved from a family member’s home in Long Beach in May 2018, and during the past 10 months, their extended family had limited contact with them, according to the sheriff’s department.
They were homeless just prior to the girl’s death and were living in a Santa Fe Springs motel or in their vehicle, officials said.
Investigators announced earlier that they believed Trinity’s body had been left along the equestrian trail within 48 hours of being found, but since then they have come to believe she had been left at the scene during the afternoon of March 1, according to the sheriff’s department.
Jones’ family described said she loved dressing up like a princess.
“Trinity was our princess,” said Jones’ cousin, Sytrice Oldham-Edmond.
Jones was found wearing a shirt that read “FUTURE PRINCESS HERO.”
“My family and I are devastated about losing her. She didn’t deserve any of this. She didn’t deserve to be tossed out like trash,” Oldham-Edmond said. “Trinity will be greatly missed.”
Jones’ father, who didn’t have custody of his daughter, posted a 22-minute video on Facebook, expressing his frustration.
“She can’t tell me how much she loves me, she can’t tell me how much she miss me,” he said.