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Los Angeles will consider a $60,000 reward for tips leading to the the arrest and prosecution of the person who killed 16-year-old Tioni Theus, whose body was found on a freeway onramp in South Los Angeles earlier this month.

Both the City Council and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are expected to vote on a combined reward on Tuesday morning to bring more attention to the teen’s slaying. Tioni was shot in the neck, and her body was dumped along a 110 Freeway onramp near Manchester Avenue, several miles north from her home in Compton, according to police.

Councilmembers Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson will introduce a motion for a $50,000 reward during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, and L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell is expected to introduce a similar motion for a $10,000 reward during the Board of Supervisors meeting.

“Tioni was a young lady with so much promise, joy and spirit, with God-given gifts and talents to give to the world. She had so much to live for and countless unfinished dreams,” Price said in a statement. “It’s disheartening to know that the person or persons responsible for her killing are still on the loose while a family and entire community continues to grieve in search for answers.”

There was some initial confusion about the city’s role in the reward because Tioni’s body was found on state property, Price said. Price hopes the reward money encourages someone to come forward and lead police to Tioni’s killer.

“There’s outrage by the community, outrage by the family and frankly outrage from me,” Price said. “No mother or father should have to carry the burden of not knowing what happened during the final moments of their child’s life.”

The City Council’s motion is expected to be voted on next week.

Senia Theus, Tioni’s cousin, woke with tears of joy Tuesday when she learned that a reward would be offered.

“Everything made her laugh. She was a bundle of joy, real bubbly and friendly,” Theus said. “She was very goofy, happy. She was always smiling, even when she was crying.”

Her killing “wasn’t deserving of her,” Theus, 40, said of her young cousin.

The lack of attention being paid to the killing of troubled Black teen Tioni Theus is yet another reminder of who is valued in America and who is not.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the teen’s killing with assistance from the Los Angeles Police Department. A motive has not been determined in the fatal shooting, and no suspect identifications or vehicle descriptions have been released.

Tioni was last seen Jan. 7 leaving her father’s house in Compton. She told him she was meeting a friend to go to a party, but she never returned.

Family described the girl as vibrant, energetic and intelligent, but said she suffered a traumatic life episode after her mother was severely injured in a hit-and-run crash that left her physically and mentally disabled. Her cousin, Nafeesah Kincy, said Tioni met a man in his 20s on Instagram who pulled her into prostitution.

“We’re definitely not pretending that Tioni was an angel. She faced trauma,” Kincy said. “I want to humanize her. I don’t want her to be seen as a prostitute or a runaway or somebody that people feel like ‘Oh, well, they live that lifestyle.’ ”

Theus, however, said she does not think her cousin was involved in sex trafficking.

“I’m not going to make it and say my baby was perfect, but not horrible either,” Theus said. “She was taken away too soon. We were always fighting for that kid. We just wanted her to be a teenager.”

Harris-Dawson, who co-sponsored the motion, said news outlets have been quick to devalue Black women and girls when they are victims.

“The underlying subtext of their thinking is distilled into worthiness; a young Black 16-year-old can only be exploited and trafficked,” Harris-Dawson said in a statement. “Today my colleagues have joined me in introducing a reward motion that crosses county, city, and district boundaries to encourage anyone who knows the perpetrator to come forward and bring peace to Tioni’s family, friends and our South Los Angeles community.”

Tioni talked about going into nursing because she wanted to help her mother recover from disability, Theus said.

Family members held a vigil near where the teen’s body was found to bring attention to her killing. The previous lack of reward money left many questioning why a $250,000 reward was offered in the slaying of Brianna Kupfer yet none had been provided in Tioni’s death.

Kupfer was stabbed to death in a Hancock Park furniture store where she worked several days after Tioni’s body was discovered. The suspect in her slaying was arrested one day after Councilmember Paul Koretz made a motion for the city to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the woman’s killer. The amount was increased to $250,000 by contributions from the community.

Times staff writer Erika D. Smith contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

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