Mother accused of killing son, leaving body near Las Vegas highway arrested in Denver


This undated photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows Samantha Moreno Rodriguez. Rodriguez is now sought on a murder warrant in Las Vegas and is suspected in killing her 7-year old son Liam Husted whose body was found near a highway outside Las Vegas 10 days ago. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP)

LAS VEGAS (NewsNation Now) —  A California mother was arrested Tuesday in Denver less than 12 hours after police identified her as the killer of her 7-year-old son, authorities said.

Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35, was arrested by an FBI task force at a hotel in eastern Denver not far from Interstate 70, Las Vegas police Lt. Ray Spencer said.

“We are all relieved that we were able to get her into custody so quickly,” said Spencer, the homicide lieutenant who has made nearly daily pleas for public help to identify the boy since his body was found May 28.

FILE – These artist’s renderings created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and distributed Thursday, June 3, 2021, by the FBI and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department depict a slain boy believed to be between the ages of 8 and 10 whose body was found Friday, May 28, 2021, off a hiking trail between Las Vegas and rural Pahrump, Nev. Authorities have identified the child as 7-year-old Liam Husted, from San Jose, California. Police said Monday, June 7, 2021, that his mother, Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35, is the suspect in his killing. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP,File)

On Monday, the child was identified as Liam Husted. Authorities haven’t disclosed how the boy died. But Spencer said it was clear he was killed.

Spencer described what he called a “heartbreaking conversation” with the boy’s father, and said he is not a suspect in his killing.

“There’s a lot of moving parts to this investigation,” the homicide lieutenant told reporters. “It is extremely active and ongoing.”

Liam and Rodriguez were seen May 26 in Laguna Beach, California, and Victorville, California, an Interstate 15 city about 190 miles southwest of Las Vegas, Spencer said.

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

Timeline of events:

  • May 24: Liam was last seen in San Jose
  • May 24: Rodriguez and Liam reportedly left California in a 2007 dark blue Dodge Caliber
  • May 26: The two were spotted in Laguna Beach, followed by Victorville, California
  • May 28: Liam’s body discovered by hikers in Mountain Springs area
  • May 29: Rodriguez’ vehicle was seen traveling on Interstate 70 near Grand Junction, Colorado
  • May 31: Rodriguez last seen at a Denver-area hotel room on May 31, where police said she checked in alone
  • June 7: LVMPD alert public of search for Rodriguez; issue arrest warrant for open murder
  • June 8: Rodriguez arrested in Denver

Rodriguez was arrested by Denver Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force led by the FBI, according to police.

She will be jailed in Denver pending a court appearance and her extradition to Las Vegas to face a murder charge, police said.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KLAS contributed to this report.

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