weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Mother facing murder charge in death of her son waives extradition

Updated June 17, 2021 - 12:15 pm

Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, the woman accused of killing her son and dumping his body off a highway in Southern Nevada, waived extradition Thursday in Denver and is expected to return to Las Vegas by mid-July.

Rodriguez, 35, was arrested June 8 in Denver in the death of her 7-year-old son, Liam Husted.

During the virtual court hearing Thursday, Deputy Public Defender Erika Unger said her client wished to be taken to Nevada and would be eligible for court-appointed counsel in Clark County.

“Ms. Rodriguez, is that what you want to do today?” District Judge Eric Elliff asked.

“Correct,” said Rodriguez, who briefly appeared in custody wearing a mask.

Elliff did not set bail and ordered that nobody speak to Rodriguez about the case unless her attorney is present. He set a status check to make sure Rodriguez is extradited by July 15.

Liam’s naked body was found May 28 near the Mountain Springs Trailhead, off state Route 160 between Las Vegas and Pahrump. Initially referred to as John “Little Zion” Doe, Liam went unidentified for more than a week as investigators fielded hundreds of tips.

The day before hikers found Liam’s body, he and his mother were staying at a Las Vegas hotel, police said.

Rodriguez’s arrest warrant does not detail how Liam died, although police noted that he was found with “multiple injuries.” The Clark County coroner’s office has not released his cause and manner of death.

On May 24, his father, Nicholas Husted, arrived at his San Jose, California, home to find Liam and his mother and their belongings gone, police said. Rodriguez had left Husted a voicemail saying: “I’m sorry. I had to do this.”

Husted reported the boy missing June 1 after he had not heard from Rodriguez. She was arrested one day after police announced Liam’s identity and declared her a wanted suspect.

“I thought I was getting ready for a custody battle, but instead I’m setting up funeral arrangements,” Husted told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a text message Thursday. “My whole world has been taken from me.”

Husted also said he wanted to clarify statements he made at a small vigil Sunday in Las Vegas.

“I feel like I have to clarify that even though I said she WAS a good mom before, it does not mean I’m defending her heinous actions,” he said. “Every day, new details come out that just kill me inside.”

Husted said his son’s body was returned home Wednesday. Liam was an only child who enjoyed helping his dad cook. Husted described his son as funny, goofy, smart and loving.

“I am just devastated that the one person Liam and I trusted caused him so much confusion and pain,” he said. “It’s not just me that lost something special, the whole world did.”

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.