SAN DIEGO (KABC) --The stepfather of 2-year-old Jahi Turner has been arrested for his murder, 14 years after the toddler was reported missing from a playground at a San Diego park.
Tieray D. Jones, 37, was taken into custody in Rocky Mount, North Carolina by U.S. Marshals on suspicion of killing Jahi, San Diego police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said during a news conference Monday afternoon.
"Let today be the day that we can start to heal as a community knowing that Jahi's murderer is in custody," Zimmerman said.
Jones, who lived with Jahi and the child's mother in an off-base Navy housing near the park, told police he left the boy alone in a playground for about 15 minutes while he went to get a soda about 150 yards away.
He has been charged with one count of murder and a felony count of child abuse causing death. California officials plan to request his extradition.
Zimmerman and San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis did not immediately disclose how investigators linked Jones to the boy's disappearance and murder.
"I wasn't sure this day was ever going to come," Dumanis said.
Jahi's disappearance prompted weeks of intensive searches, including an extensive sweep of the Miramar landfill.
Jones even helped San Diego police come up with a composite sketch of a potential female suspect.
"Looking at this case, it's not just one piece of evidence that got us here today," San Diego police Capt. David Nisleit said.
The boy was in Jones' care while his mother was serving aboard a San Diego-based Navy ship. The couple had a child together and returned to their home state of Maryland in 2003.
Jahi's body has not been found.
The Associated Press contributed to this report