On Monday, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department identified the boy found dead near Mountain Springs Trailhead on May 28 as Liam Husted, of San Jose, Calif.

By Gabrielle Chung
June 08, 2021 01:05 PM
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Samantha Moreno Rodriguez Liam Husted
Samantha Moreno Rodriguez; Liam Husted

Police have arrested the mother of a boy whose body was found on a hiking trail outside of Las Vegas last month after investigators linked the remains to a missing 7-year-old from California.

The mother, Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35, was arrested on an open murder warrant in connection with the death of the boy, identified as Liam Husted, of San Jose, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department announced.

Rodriguez was arrested in Denver, Colorado by the Denver Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force led by the FBI. She will be booked into an area jail pending extradition to Las Vegas.

On Monday, police identified Liam, who was found dead near Mountain Springs Trailhead on May 28.

Liam was last seen with Rodriguez on May 24 leaving the San Jose area in a 2007 dark blue Dodge Caliber, homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said at a news conference on Monday.

"We can place them in the area of Laguna Beach, on the afternoon of the 26th of May," said Spencer. "Later that afternoon, we know the vehicle was in the area of Victorville, California."

A day after Liam's body was found by a group of hikers, the vehicle was spotted on the I-90 near Grand Junction, Colorado, according to Spencer.

Rodriguez had last been seen on May 31, when she "checked in by herself to a hotel room in the Denver-area," Spencer said.

Authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Rodriguez seeking nationwide extradition. They had asked the public to keep a lookout for the Dodge Caliber, which Spencer said was "packed full of belongings" and bears the California license plate "6WLH211."

"When I say packed, I believe the backseat and cargo compartment of the car had no room for anyone to sit in it," he said.

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Liam's father reported the boy's disappearance on June 1 after not hearing back from Rodriguez or the child, according to Spencer.

Police were first tipped off when a family friend noticed that reconstructed photo of John "Little Zion" Doe - the then-unidentified boy found deceased near Las Vegas - bared a resemblance to Liam, he said.

Investigators were able to positively identify Liam's remains after linking DNA from items in the missing child case in San Jose to the boy's body.

A motive is not known at this time, though Spencer noted to reporters that "there's nothing that would indicate any prior abuse that we're aware of."

"This has been an emotional last 10 days for myself [and] all the investigators that have been working on it," Spencer said. "We're just glad we're able to get some closure for Liam and then hold the person responsible for this crime accountable - so that's what our focus is on right now."

It was not immediately clear if Rodriguez has retained an attorney to comment on her behalf.