LAS VEGAS (KION and KLAS) Police in Las Vegas have identified a boy found dead outside the city as a 7-year-old from San Jose, California, according to the CBS affiliate in the city.
He is identified as Liam Husted, according to KLAS. His body was found off SR 160 near Mountain Springs, but police have not released his cause of death.
Now, investigators are searching for the boy's mother, Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, in connection to his murder. The two reportedly left California in a dark blue Dodge Caliber on May 24, and a family friend said that was the last time she had seen them in more than two weeks. After leaving San Jose, police belive they were in Laguna Beach on May 26 and Victorville after that.
A day after Liam's body was found, police said his mother's vehicle was on I-70 near Grand Junction, Colorado. She was last seen in a Denver-area hotel room on May 31. She reportedly checked in alone.
Police have issued a warrant for her arrest for open murder. It calls for nationwide extradition.
Police said there is nothing showing a history of child abuse in the family, and they do not know a motive. Investigators spoke to Liam's father before holding a news conference to release his identity.
“It’s a heartbreaking conversation to have,” the lieutenant said. “This has been an emotion last 10 days for myself, all the investigators who have been working on it, and we’re just glad we’re able to get some closure for Liam and then hold the person responsible for this crime accountable.”
Investigators said the father reported him missing on June 1, but did not believe his son was in danger. He said that when Rodriguez left with Liam, he filed the report after he did not hear from them. Investigators said the father did not want to get Rodriguez in trouble and did not file charges.
Police say Liam's father is not a suspect.
The boy's body was found by hikers late last month, and last week, investigators released a digitally enhanced portrait and side portrait of the victim and announced of a reward of up to $10,000 for information about his identity or the murder.
The boy was originally misidentified by a woman who contacted police saying he resembled her 8-year-old son. When she was shown pictures of the body, she positively identified him as her son. The identification led to an Amber Alert for the boy's 11-year-old half brother, who had last been seen with his brother and their father. Investigators later discovered that the boy who was thought to be dead was camping with his father and brother in an area of Utah outside of cellphone reception.
KLAS reports that a detective flew to San Jose Saturday morning and used DNA taken from a pillow and clothing belonging to Liam to confirm his identity.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department thanked San Jose Police for their help in identifying the victim.
Anyone who recognized Rodriguez or Liam while they were in the Las Vegas area is asked to call the police tip line at 702-828-3521.