Boy Found Dead Near Trailhead Identified as Liam Husted, 7

Police are looking for his mother
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2021 3:00 AM CDT
Police Seeking Mother of Boy Found Dead Near Trailhead
These artist's renderings created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and distributed Thursday, June 3, 2021, depict a slain boy believed to be between the ages of 8 and 10 whose body was found May 28, 2021, off a hiking trail near Las Vegas.   (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP)

The body of a boy found by a hiker near a Las Vegas-area trailhead has been identified as Liam Husted, age 7, of San Jose, Calif. The child's mother, Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, is now wanted on charges of open murder, Fox 5 Vegas reports. A family friend identified the boy based on the sketches provided by police; he had previously been known as John "Little Zion" Doe in the media, KTNV reports. Mother and son left San Jose May 24, the Mercury News reports, and were last seen together in Laguna Beach, Calif., two days later. Liam's body was found on May 28, and Rodriguez, 35, was last seen at a Denver-area hotel May 31.

Liam's father did not contact police until June 1 because "the father did not feel that his son was in harm’s way," a lieutenant explained at a press conference during which he said the father is not a suspect. "Not trying to get the mother into trouble, he did not want to file any type of charges or anything," he said. Authorities do not yet know why Rodriguez left San Jose with the boy, or why they traveled to Las Vegas, nor do they have any ideas about a motive. "There’s nothing at this point that would indicate there’s any prior abuse that we’re aware of," the lieutenant said. The child's paternal grandfather, who describes the boy's dad as "distraught," says, "Liam was a special needs child, at a disadvantage and dependent on others' kindness." (More Nevada stories.)

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