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Mother’s arrest warrant does not say how 7-year-old son died

Updated June 15, 2021 - 1:29 pm

An arrest warrant released Tuesday does not reveal how 7-year-old Liam Husted died before his body was found in Mountain Springs more than two weeks ago.

Liam’s mother, Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35, of San Jose, California, has been charged with murder in her son’s death and is awaiting extradition in Colorado.

She was arrested June 8 in Denver, where Metropolitan Police Department homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said she fled after killing her son in Mountain Springs.

Liam’s naked body was found at about 7:45 a.m. on May 28 near a hiking trail off of state Route 160 in the small community west of Las Vegas, according to court documents released Tuesday by Las Vegas Justice Court.

The report does not detail how Liam died, although police noted that he was found with “multiple injuries.”

His cause and manner of death were pending from the Clark County coroner’s office as of Tuesday morning. The report also indicated that the coroner’s office was waiting on toxicology results to make a final ruling on what killed Liam.

According to the report, Rodriguez texted a friend in May that Liam’s father, Nicholas Husted, was planning on taking them on a trip to Las Vegas from May 18 to May 23. Husted would instead find that Rodriguez had taken Liam and left their San Jose home on May 24.

The friend was the woman who saw news reports of John “Little Zion” Doe and contacted the San Jose Police Department to alert officials that the then-unidentified boy resembled Liam.

When Husted found Liam and Rodriguez gone on May 24, Rodriguez had left her cellphone at their home, the report said. Rodriguez also left Husted a voicemail saying, “I’m sorry. I had to do this.”

“She also goes on to say that ‘I’m going to try to get a house for Liam and I’ and that ‘we can talk about this in the future,’” Spencer told reporters last week, quoting from the voicemail.

Spencer has said there was “nothing suspicious” in the voicemail, and police do not consider Husted a suspect.

On June 1, Husted contacted San Jose police after he had not heard from Rodriguez, and police put out a notice for officials to look for Rodriguez’s 2007 Dodge SUV, the report said. Police also noted in the report that the couple had been having relationship problems for about two years.

“Nicholas did not want to press charges for child stealing; he just wanted Samantha taking (Liam) documented,” the report said.

But once Rodriguez’s friend contacted San Jose police on June 4, the department began working with Las Vegas police. Detectives flew to San Jose the next day to receive DNA samples, and by June 6, the DNA showed a match between Liam and John “Little Zion” Doe, the report said.

Rodriguez’s car was spotted in Victorville, California, heading toward Las Vegas two days after Husted found the two gone from their home, the report said.

The mother and son then checked into a Las Vegas hotel on May 27, the day before the boy’s body was found in Mountain Springs, police have said.

Police accessed Rodriguez’s email account, which led detectives to a Days Inn just south of Denver that Rodriguez checked into on May 31, the report said.

Rodriguez is scheduled for a court appearance Thursday in Colorado.

“The short-term goal is to get her back to Nevada so she can face charges,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday. “We believe there is sufficient evidence to bring charges against her for open murder, and we want to proceed against her on the charge.”

A small group gathered with Liam’s father at Sunset Park to honor the 7-year-old boy on Monday evening. Husted said Liam, who was on the autism spectrum, was “brilliant” and loved to help cook and bake.

During the vigil, Husted thanked the Las Vegas community and police for treating Liam “like the prince he is.”

“He was one in a trillion,” he said. “I’m still in shock. I still don’t want to believe it.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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