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June 27, 2022

Gilroy student, 16, not held against her will

The 16-year-old Gilroy High School junior who went missing for
four days following a school event in Modesto was not held against
her will or harmed in any way, according to police.
The 16-year-old Gilroy High School junior who went missing for four days following a school event in Modesto was not held against her will or harmed in any way, according to police.

Tamika Jones, who turned herself in to Merced police on Tuesday evening, is being charged as a runaway, according to the Merced Police Department.

The 26-year-old man who Jones spent the four days with at a Merced apartment will be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

“There was no criminal activity involved in this case except that (Jones) was a minor who ran away from home – voluntarily,” said Harry Markarian, a Merced police detective. “(Jones) will have to go to court for the charge, but she probably won’t be punished.”

Markarian said Jones was taken to the Merced Police Department by the unidentified 26-year-old around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday after he was contacted by police investigators earlier in the day regarding Jones’ whereabouts. Markarian would not release the man’s name because the man hadn’t formally been charged.

Jones lived with her family in the Modesto area in 2000, but Markarian said he did not know her association with the 26-year-old man.

Jones and two of her female classmates wandered from a school lip-synch contest in downtown Modesto on March 21 and left in a vehicle with the 26-year-old man and two 17-year-old males who have yet to be identified, according to Markarian.

The two other students returned home Saturday after spending the night with Jones and the three males at a Merced apartment, but Jones decided to stay.

On Wednesday Jones’ mother Cynthia Carter said she thought her daughter had been held against her will, drugged and possibly sexually assaulted. She also said her daughter had never ran away before.

“Something’s not right,” Carter said. “This whole thing doesn’t fit how Tamika acts.”

Last week, Carter signed a permission slip to let Jones travel to Modesto to watch the annual Rotary Club-sponsored, California high school lip-synch contest that attracted more than 2,000 students from 13 schools around the state. The contest includes principals and students doing dance routines to lip-synched music, and winners are awarded college scholarships.

GHS Principal Bob Bravo, an assistant principal said at least seven teachers accompanied the approximately 80 students who entered the contest.

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