News, Culture & Society

Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35, was arrested on charges of murdering her seven-year-old son

A father has defended the mother accused of murdering their seven-year-old autistic son, saying he does not think she is a ‘bad mom,’ but instead had a ‘time of weakness.’

Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35, was arrested in Denver, Colorado, last week and faces a murder charge in Las Vegas after her son Liam’s body was found dumped on a hiking trail in Nevada last month.

But Liam’s father, Nicholas Husted, has now spoken out in her defense.

Husted clutched onto his son Liam’s favorite Mickey Mouse blanket as he spoke at a vigil at Sunset Park in Las Vegas on Sunday.

‘I don’t think she was a bad mom,’ Husted told The Las Vegas Review Journal. ‘She had a time of weakness, and she is going to pay for it.’ 

Nicholas Husted clutched onto his son Liam’s favorite Mickey Mouse blanket at a vigil at Sunset Park in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Husted had arrived home in San Jose, California, on May 24 to find Liam and Rodriguez gone. She’d left a letter saying: ‘I’m sorry I had to do it like this.’     

Police revealed that in Rodriguez’s letter to Husted, she’d also said: ‘I’m going to try to get a house for Liam and I and we can talk about this in the future.’

Nicholas reported Liam missing on June 1, a week after finding the letter, but said he did not think his son was in danger. 

Prior to her arrest, Rodriguez was last seen on May 31 alone at a Denver-area hotel. 

She was last seen with Liam on May 26 – two days before he was found dead.

Police said the mother and son left San Jose on May 24, driving a dark blue 2007 Dodge Caliber sedan with the back seat packed full of belongings.

Husted's body was found by hikers behind a bush on Mountain Springs Trailhead between Las Vegas and Pahrump, Nevada. The police official had said it was clear the boy was killed, but did not say on Monday how Husted had died

Husted’s body was found by hikers behind a bush on Mountain Springs Trailhead between Las Vegas and Pahrump, Nevada. The police official had said it was clear the boy was killed, but did not say on Monday how Husted had died

Pictured: A grab from a Fox 2 news report showing the site where the boy's body was found, and flowers people have left for him

Pictured: A grab from a Fox 2 news report showing the site where the boy’s body was found, and flowers people have left for him

Liam’s body was found shortly after dawn May 28 behind a bush at a trailhead off the main highway between Las Vegas and rural Pahrump.    

He had become the focus of a massive campaign which the local community became involved in.

‘This young boy didn’t live here, but he is one of us. He could be your child,’ one of the vigil’s organizers Dina Lynn said on Sunday. ‘Liam Husted. We won’t forget your name.’ 

Husted told the Review Journal: ‘I just had to come and show my appreciation for everything you guys did in this community to take him under your wing like he was your own when I wasn’t able to be here with him, really means a lot to me, and I know he appreciates it just as much as I do.’

‘He was one in a trillion,’ the father added. ‘I’m still in shock. I still don’t want to believe it.’ 

Rodriguez was arrested last Tuesday at a roadside hotel in Denver, Colorado by the Denver Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force.

The FBI and the LVMPD both say the child was a victim of homicide. They believe his body was found within 24 hours of his death

The FBI and the LVMPD both say the child was a victim of homicide. They believe his body was found within 24 hours of his death

Las Vegas police Lieutenant Ray Spencer said Rodriguez was with a man when she was found but police do not believe he had ‘any involvement whatsoever in this case.’

‘We are all relieved that we were able to get her into custody so quickly,’ said Spencer, the homicide lieutenant who had made nearly daily pleas for public help to identify the child’s body after it was discovered by hikers.

Spencer would not say during a news conference last week how Liam died or describe a motive for the killing. He referred to a coroner’s investigation and toxicology tests, which can take weeks to complete.

However, he did say it was clear that the boy had been killed in the remote Mountain Springs area where he was found. 

Spencer has previously described a ‘heartbreaking conversation’ with the child’s father following his identification and has confirmed that the father is not a suspect in the killing.  

Pictured: The mother and son left San Jose on May 24 driving a dark blue 2007 Dodge Caliber sedan with the back seat packed full of belongings

Pictured: The mother and son left San Jose on May 24 driving a dark blue 2007 Dodge Caliber sedan with the back seat packed full of belongings

The homicide lieutenant had also said there was ‘nothing that would indicate any prior abuse that we’re aware of’. 

Liam’s body was found shortly after dawn May 28 behind a bush at a trailhead off the main highway between Las Vegas and rural Pahrump.

Police are still trying to determine where the mother and boy stayed on May 26, Spencer said. 

Police believe the body was left near State Route 160 after dark May 27.  

Before Liam was identified, authorities released digitally enhanced images of an unidentified boy, developed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – based on images shared by the medical examiner. 

A family friend told San Jose police on Friday that she had not seen Rodriguez or Husted in more than a week. Pictured: The site where Husted's body was found

A family friend told San Jose police on Friday that she had not seen Rodriguez or Husted in more than a week. Pictured: The site where Husted’s body was found 

They were released on Thursday, June 3, along with news of the $10,000 reward for anyone with information pointing to the boy’s identity.

The renderings painted a vivid picture of an eight-to-10-year-old Hispanic boy dubbed John ‘Little Zion’ Doe, who was later identified as Liam Husted.

The images were created on Adobe Photoshop, and authorities said they hoped they would identify the boy sooner thanks to the stark details drawn by the artists.

Colin McNally, the supervisor for the imaging unit at the NCMEC, told Las Vegas station KVVU that the images ‘open up the eyes, sort of clean up the tissue damage, (and) change the perspective of the image so that it’s turned upright’. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk