LAS VEGAS (KION and KLAS) A San Jose mother accused of killing her 7-year-old son and leaving his body on a Las Vegas-area hiking trail has been indicted by a grand jury, according to the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas.
KLAS reports that court documents show the woman, 35-year-old Samantha Moreno-Rodriguez, told investigators that she strangled her son, Liam Husted, for about 10 to 15 minutes.
The investigation began on May 28 when hikers reported finding the naked body of a child off a dirt road. The child's body was originally misidentified, but eventually, investigators were able to use DNA to confirm that it was Liam after a tip from a family friend.
Moreno-Rodriguez reportedly left San Jose on May 24. Liam's father and Moreno-Rodriguez's partner, Nicholas Husted, told the grand jury that he returned home to find a voicemail from Moreno-Rodriguez saying she had left with their son, but did not know that she had left the San Jose area, according to KLAS.
“I wasn’t worried about her; I was just kind of worried in general about them together, you know, if they were safe,” he told the grand jury. “All [of Liam’s] clothes were gone, all his toys were gone, and the same with her stuff, Samantha’s clothes, shoes, purse, all their belongings basically were gone. So, yeah, I was left with basically everything that’s mine.”
After about a week, Nicholas Husted did not hear from either of them and was not sure what to do, so he called San Jose police on June 1 to document the situation. He reportedly chose not to file a child abduction police report because he and investigators believed there was nothing suspicious in the message.
On June 4, a friend of Rodriguez saw a sketch of the boy found on the hiking trail and knew that Rodriguez was missing, so she contacted San Jose police, and officers launched an investigation. The following day, a detective from Las Vegas traveled to San Jose to get a pillow with DNA for forensics. That was used to confirm that the body found was Liam.
A detective testified that Moreno-Rodriguez got frustrated with Liam while they were on a hike, according to KLAS.
“Samantha indicated that she pushed Liam causing him to fall and hit his head,” the investigators told the grand jury. “She said that she also fell during this process and then after Liam fell and hit his head he started screaming, top of his lungs, louder than she had ever heard him scream before and she wasn’t so sure how to stop him from crying. The things that she had tried in the past to calm him down weren’t working and now he’s been injured by falling and hitting his head so he’s screaming at the top of his, as she describes it at the top of his lungs.”
That is when the investigator said she strangled and killed Liam.
“Samantha indicated that she had watched television crime shows and thought that by removing his clothing, it would make it more difficult to associate him with her after she left the area,” the investigator told the court.
Moreno-Rodriguez was tracked down and arrested in the Denver metro area on May 31. She was eventually extradited to Las Vegas.
Her next court date is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday.