LOS ANGELES (AP) — The boyfriend of the mother of a 9-year-old girl whose body was found in a duffel bag on a horse trail was charged Tuesday with one count of murder.
Emiel Hunt, 38, allegedly killed Trinity Love Jones about March 1, according to charges filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The dead girl was found March 5 by a park worker who spotted part of her upper body sticking out of a black duffel bag at the bottom of an embankment in Hacienda Heights, just southeast of Los Angeles.
She was wearing pants with a panda pattern and a pink shirt that said, “Future Princess Hero.”
Friends and family members described her as a joyful and talented girl who did well in school.
A memorial near where her body was found featured stuffed animals, heart-shaped balloons, dozens of votive candles and notes expressing love for Trinity and one that said “Rest in heaven, Princess.”
There were no obvious signs of trauma on her body. Authorities have not revealed a cause of death or motive.
Hunt, who has a record of felony child abuse, was arrested Saturday when he was found sleeping in his vehicle near San Diego International Airport.
Hunt was one of two people detained in the ongoing investigation. The Los Angeles sheriff did not name the so-called person of interest in the ongoing investigation.
Antonio Jones, the father of the victim, said the girl had been living with her mother, Taquesta Graham, and she hadn’t let him see the girl.
He and other family members were in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pomona as Hunt made a brief appearance but did not enter a plea.
“I felt like a monster. I wanted to do to him what he did to her,” Barbara Jones, the girl’s grandmother, told reporters outside the courthouse.
Hunt’s arraignment was postponed until April 16. If convicted, Hunt faces a sentence of up to 50 years to life in state prison, prosecutors said.
Hunt was being held on $2 million bail and could not be reached for comment.
A message left seeking comment from the public defender’s office was not immediately returned.