“When I went there, he told me, ‘I knew you would come to me,’” she said. She never saw him again. “I was planning on taking him home that day but I was stopped,” she said.
He was reported missing two days before his sixth birthday. Dalton Olson and his girlfriend, Theresa Balboa, told investigators that Balboa had been confronted that morning by Sam's mother and a uniformed officer, who demanded custody of the child.
Balboa said she had no choice but to hand over the boy. Her story would prove to be false, authorities said. Five days later, on June 1, she was discovered with Samuel's decomposed body in a Jasper County Best Western motel room by sheriff's deputies, who had received a tip from Crime Stoppers, authorities said. The location was more than 130 miles from Samuel's hometown of Houston.
"I know she lied," Sarah Olson said Tuesday.
Balboa is the only person arrested thus far in Samuel's death, which has been ruled a homicide caused by blunt head trauma, according to autopsy results. She is being held in lieu of $600,000 bail at the Houston County Jail, charged with evidence tampering involving a human corpse.
Dalton Olson is still being questioned in the case, according to Houston police, as are two men who allegedly told investigators they helped Balboa move the bin holding Samuel's body, police said. None of the men have been charged, though prosecutors have said additional charges are pending in the "murder or capital murder" investigation.
The father told investigators that Samuel had been in Balboa's care since April 30, the last time anyone outside of his relatives reported seeing the little boy.
Through his attorney, Dalton Olson has said he had nothing to do with Samuel's disappearance or his death. He has not responded to requests for comment from Inside Edition Digital.
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.
Sarah Olson said Tuesday she did not know Sam had been with Balboa. She also didn't know her ex-husband had filed for a restraining order against the woman.
Court documents show the parents had been fighting in court for at least a year. Sarah Olson had primary custody of her son, with Dalton Olson having visitation rights, her attorney said. The father took Samuel in January 2020 and never returned him to his mother, said attorney Marco Gonzalez, who represents the mother.
Dalton Olson "actually told me I would never speak to him again," the mom said. "I called police after police, trying to figure out what to do. But it was a civil matter. I had to take him to court. Things can be slow."
Houston police do not enforce custody orders, a department spokesman told Inside Edition Digital last week.
"A lot of change needs to happen in the legal system, among parents," the mother said. "It's not just my son, not just me. It's a lot of people going through the same thing. And something needs to be done."