Samuel Olson Death: 2nd Person Arrested in Connection With Killing of 5-Year-Old Texas Boy

Benjamin Rivera was arrested early Wednesday.
Benjamin RiveraHouston Police Department

Benjamin Rivera, the roommate of Theresa Balboa, has been arrested in the homicide investigation of Samuel Olson. Balboa is the girlfriend of Samuel's father.

A second person has been arrested in connection with the homicide investigation of Samuel Olson, a 5-year-old Texas boy whose decomposing remains were found stuffed in a plastic bin, authorities said.

Benjamin Rivera, 27, surrendered to Houston police early Wednesday and was charged with evidence tampering involving a human corpse and booked into the Harris County Jail, police said. He is the roommate of Theresa Balboa, the girlfriend of Samuel's father.  She was arrested earlier this month on the same charge and remains behind bars in lieu of $600,000 bail, according to online jail records.

On Wednesday afternoon, Rivera was ordered held in lieu of $100,000 bail by a Harris County judge.

According to a charging document filed by the Harris County District Attorney's Office, Rivera allegedly told homicide investigators he helped Balboa hide Samuel's body in a plastic bin and transport it to a storage facility weeks before the boy was reported missing by Dalton Olson, the child's father.

Samuel's body was discovered June 1 by sheriff's deputies in Jasper County, Texas, some 130 miles from his Houston hometown. Authorities responding to a Crime Stoppers tip found Balboa, 29, in a Best Western motel room with the box containing Samuel's corpse, according to prosecutors.

The black-and-yellow plastic container had been secured with zip ties, authorities said. A deputy pried open the lid and saw a child's remains wrapped in plastic bags and bound by duct tape, court documents said, and a strong, foul odor consistent with decomposing remains emanated from the bin.

During questioning by homicide investigators, Rivera allegedly told them he had been called at work on May 10 by Balboa, who said Samuel was unresponsive and he needed to come home immediately.

After returning to their apartment, Rivera said he saw Samuel's bruised body lying on a bed and he helped Balboa place the child in their bathtub, where it remained for two days, according to the charging document filed by prosecutors.

Rivera told police he went to Walmart on May 13 and bought duct tape and a plastic tote, and that he and Balboa placed Samuel's body inside and then drove to a storage locker, where the container remained until May 31, the document said.

Prosecutors also said detectives obtained text messages from Rivera's cellphone showing he and Balboa discussing moving the child's body.

Dalton Olson reported his son missing on May 27, two days before the child's sixth birthday. He and Balboa told investigators that Balboa had been confronted that morning by Sam's mother, Sarah Olson, and a uniformed officer, who demanded custody of the child, authorities said.

Balboa's statement would later prove to be false, investigators said. Five days later, she was discovered with Samuel's decomposed body, authorities said.

Dalton Olson, through his attorney, has denied any involvement in Samuel's death, which was deemed a violent homicide caused by blunt head trauma, according to autopsy results publicly released earlier this month.

No one has been charged with killing the child. Balboa and Rivera are the only two people charged in connection with Samuel's death.

Prosecutors have said they intend to file additional charges in the "murder or capital murder" investigation, which remains open.

There are myriad unanswered questions in the disturbing case — notably why was Sam in Balboa's care? She had been charged with felony assault in November for allegedly choking Dalton Olson, according to court records, and was under a restraining order to have no contact with him or his family.

Dalton Olson said Samuel had been in Balboa's care since April 30, the last day anyone outside the child's relatives had seen the boy alive, authorities said. 

Sarah Olson recently told reporters she believes her ex-husband is involved with Samuel's death. She and the boy's father had been waging a bitter custody battle and she had not seen her son since his fifth birthday party in May 2020, she said.

The mother and her attorney said she had primary custody of Samuel, but his father had taken the child for a visit and never returned him.

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