‘Little Zion Doe’ Identified, Mother Arrested for Murder of Boy Found Dead on Trail Outside Las Vegas
The news of the mother's arrest broke on Twitter Tuesday morning following a nationwide manhunt which was announced Monday afternoon.
The mother “Little Zion Doe,” the boy who was found dead on a trail outside Las Vegas, has been arrested following a nationwide manhunt, the Las Vegas Metro Police announced on Twitter Tuesday morning.
Samantha Moreno Rodriguez was arrested in Denver by the FBI and Denver Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force early Tuesday morning, authorities said.
She will be booked into an area jail pending extradition to Las Vegas. She had been wanted for her son’s murder.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said Monday afternoon the body of the child found 10 days ago was identified as Liam Husted, 7, who was last seen traveling by car with his mother. The family is from San Jose, California.
"Over the last 10 days, we have put in a tremendous amount of resources," Metro police Lieutenant Raymond Spencer said in Monday afternoon’s press conference. "We had detectives working through hundreds of leads in an effort to identify the victim. … After looking at those photographs, we believed that there was a very good possibility that the missing person case that they were working in San Jose was related to our homicide investigation."
Spencer said he “does not know a possible motive” in the murder and is still reaching out to the public for answers. A national arrest warrant was issued for Rodigruez Monday as well.
Investigators found that Rodriguez continued to travel in the same vehicle after the boy’s body was discovered the day before, CBS News reported.
“Shortly thereafter, on the 29th of May, we discovered that the car was traveling on I-70 near Grand Junction, Colorado,” Spencer said. “The last contact that anyone had seen of Samantha is at a Denver-area hotel room on the 31st of May, when she checked in by herself.”
The Metro Police worked with police from San Jose over the weekend to confirm the boy’s identity. Police said they sent an investigator to San Jose to collect clothing and a pillow of Liam’s, which they used to positively identify the boy’s body through DNA, CBS San Francisco reported.
Investigators say they were tipped off by a family friend that had not seen Rodriguez or her son for some time and saw news coverage of a boy’s body found in the desert, CBS San Francisco reported.
“The family friend stated that she did not see either Samantha or Liam in over two weeks,” Spencer said. “She saw news coverage from our case here in Las Vegas and saw the composite sketch that was pushed out to the media. After seeing that, she believed that the sketch resembled Liam.”
Rodriguez left San Jose with her son on May 24, traveling first to Southern California and then Nevada, Spencer said.
“We can place them in the area of Laguna Beach, on the afternoon of the 26th of May,” Spencer said. “Later that afternoon, we know the vehicle was in the area of Victorville, California.”
On May 28, the remains of the boy were found by a group of hikers on a trail near Mountain Springs Trailhead, when one of them found the boy's body near a bush, according to KLAS.
Authorities say that detectives searched their databases and the boy’s description did not match any of anyone missing. Cops say that the young boy may have been dead for 24 hours when he was found.
Cops said that they informed the boy’s father with the news. Authorities said the boy’s dad wasn't considered a suspect in his murder and they said he reached out to them after he hadn't heard from Rodriguez or Liam, adding he never thought the boy was in danger.
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