Child's body found at Merced home in search of missing Hayward girl

UPDATE: 8-year-old Sophia Mason's mother was arrested for her murder. Read more here. 

Authorities are trying to determine whether a body of a young child found Friday at home in Merced is that of a missing Hayward girl.

Merced police, acting on information from Hayward authorities, executed a search warrant about 8:40 a.m. in the 500 block of Barclay Road, where the body was found. Police did not specify where the body was recovered. 

But police have not determined yet whether it is of 8-year-old Sophia Mason, who was officially reported missing on Tuesday, even though she was last seen in Hayward in December of 2021, police said.

It's not known why it took so long for her to be reported missing. 

Sophia is known to stay at different locations ranging between Hayward and Southern California, police said. 

 However, a Merced police detective told the Merced Star that said Sophia was seen in the area in February. 

Mason's mother Samantha Johnson was arrested in Newark on Thursday charges of resisting arrest and corporal injury on a child. 

It remains unclear if those charges are connected to her daughter.

Merced police said the investigation is still in its early stages. 

The Merced County Coroner’s Office is working to positively identify the child.

Merced Police are asking anyone with any information to contact Detective John Pinnegar at (209)388-7712 or by email at

Case Number: 22-14506