The mother of 9-year-old Trinity Love Jones, whose body was found in a duffel bag along a trail in Hacienda Heights last week, was extradited Thursday from Texas to California to answer questions about her daughter’s slaying.
Taquesta Graham, 28, a former Long Beach resident, is being held without bail on a warrant unrelated to her daughter’s death at the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Norwalk station.
Graham has not been charged in the girl’s death.
Graham’s boyfriend, Emiel Hunt, 38, is charged with murdering Trinity. Authorities say Hunt killed the girl on March 1 and dumped her body on the trail. If convicted, Hunt faces up to life in prison.
The girl’s body was found five days later inside a large duffel bag that had been abandoned in light brush a short distance from the 60 Freeway. Her head and part of her torso were protruding from the bag. Authorities have not said how she was killed.
After the gruesome discovery, Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators sought the public’s help to identify the girl and released a sketch of her. An informant, whom police have not identified, told authorities that the sketch of the girl resembled Trinity. The person “expressed concern, but did not know the whereabouts of Trinity or her mother,” the Sheriff’s Department wrote in a news release.
Investigators looked into Graham and Hunt’s criminal histories and began searching for them as possible suspects in the case. Court records show Hunt was convicted of felony child abuse in San Diego County in 2005 and sentenced to 12 years in state prison. Graham has a prior conviction for involvement with a minor in prostitution.
Detectives at the time still weren’t positive about the girl’s identity.
On March 8, Hunt and Graham were stopped in Hunt’s black Nissan Armada at a Border Patrol checkpoint in Hudspeth County, Texas. Graham was taken into custody on an unrelated warrant, and Hunt was released. After his girlfriend was arrested, Hunt drove back to California.
Detectives arrested Hunt a day later after they found him sleeping in his SUV, which was parked in a lot near San Diego International Airport. Family members met with coroner’s investigators on Sunday and formally identified the dead girl as Trinity.
Graham, Hunt and Trinity moved from a family member’s home in Long Beach in May 2018. Extended family saw or heard from the couple and the girl on only a few occasions over the last 10 months, and investigators discovered they had been homeless just before the girl’s death. They had been sleeping at a motel in Santa Fe Springs or in their car, authorities said.
Barbara Jones, Trinity’s grandmother, said the family is filled with rage and called Hunt a “monster.” She questioned how a man with such a criminal history was allowed near her grandchild.
“I want to do to him what he did to her,” she said.
Times staff writer Nicole Santa Cruz contributed to this report.