Las Vegas cops hunting for mother of young boy, 7, found murdered

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Las Vegas police are looking for the mother of a seven-year-old boy who was found murdered and dumped on a hiking trail.

Liam Husted of San Jose, California was found dead near a highway 10 days ago, but had not been identified until now.

His mother, Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35, was last seen alone at a Denver hotel on May 31, Las Vegas Police Department Lieutenant Ray Spencer said.

Rodriguez is now wanted on a murder warrant in Las Vegas, Spencer said.

The police officer had said it was clear the boy had been killed, but did not say Monday how Liam had died.

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

“There are a lot of moving parts in this investigation,” the homicide lieutenant told reporters. “It is extremely active and ongoing,” he said, but did not specify why the thought that Rodriguez killed Liam.

“There is nothing to indicate previous abuse that we are aware of,” he said.

This photo from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows Samantha Moreno Rodriguez.  Rodriguez is now wanted on a murder warrant in Las Vegas and is suspected of killing her seven-year-old son Liam Husted whose body was found 10 days ago near a highway outside Las Vegas

Rodriguez is now wanted on a murder warrant in Las Vegas and is suspected of killing her seven-year-old son Liam Husted whose body was found 10 days ago near a highway outside Las Vegas

Left: A photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department of Samantha Moreno Rodriguez. Rodriguez is now wanted on a murder warrant in Las Vegas and is suspected of killing her seven-year-old son Liam Husted (right) whose body was found 10 days ago near a highway outside Las Vegas

The mother and son left San Jose on May 24 in a dark blue 2007 Dodge Caliber sedan with the back seat full of gear, Spencer said.

A family friend told the San Jose Police Department on Friday that she hadn’t seen Rodriguez or Liam in over a week, and she recognized the boy from a display prepared by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and distributed by the media.

Liam and Rodriguez were seen May 26 in Laguna Beach, Calif., and Victorville, Calif., a town on Interstate 15 about 190 miles southwest of Las Vegas, Spencer said.

Pictured: Artist's renderings created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and distributed on Thursday, June 3, 2021, by the FBI and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, show a murdered boy, later identified as Liam Husted of San Jose

Pictured: Artist’s renderings created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and distributed on Thursday, June 3, 2021, by the FBI and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, show a murdered boy, later identified as Liam Husted of San Jose

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

He became the focus of an intense publicity campaign Thursday that included an offer from the FBI of up to $10,000 for information to identify him and his attacker.

Spencer did not say if anyone was eligible for the reward, and no FBI official spoke to reporters on Monday.

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

Police believe the body may have been left near State Route 160 on May 27.

Pictured: An excerpt from a Fox 2 news story showing where the boy was found and flowers people left for him

Pictured: An excerpt from a Fox 2 news story showing where the boy was found and flowers people left for him

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

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

“I was just shaken up,” said Shawna Burke, 63, who lives near where the body was found, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Nothing ever happens here.”

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 coroner.

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

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

The boy’s body was spotted around 7:30 a.m. May 28 by a group of hikers on Mountain Springs Trailhead, near State Route 160 milestone 20 between the cities of Las Vegas and Pahrump.

The Las Vegas Metro Police Department and the Las Vegas Division of the FBI say the child was a murder victim.

They believe the body was found within 24 hours of his death.

“I was just shaken up,” said Shawna Burke, 63, who lives near where the body was found, according to the report. Las Vegas Review Journal. “Nothing ever happens here.”

Pictured: The mother and son left San Jose on May 24 in a dark blue 2007 Dodge Caliber sedan with the rear seat full of gear

Pictured: The mother and son left San Jose on May 24 in a dark blue 2007 Dodge Caliber sedan with the rear seat full of gear

The FBI and LVMPD both say the child was a murder victim.  They believe he was found within 24 hours of his death.  Rodriguez is now wanted on a murder warrant in Las Vegas, Lieutenant Ray Spencer said

The FBI and LVMPD both say the child was a murder victim. They believe he was found within 24 hours of his death. Rodriguez is now wanted on a murder warrant in Las Vegas, Lieutenant Ray Spencer said

The images were created using 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 imaging unit supervisor at the NCMEC, told the Las Vegas station: KVVU that the images ‘open the eyes, clear up the tissue damage, (and) change the perspective of the image so that it stands upright’.

“These images are very important to make sure we capture what this child would have looked like – it’s not just creating a face to come out with the suitcase, but it really makes this specific to this child.” based on the image we have. …to go along with the case information in the hopes that someone will recognize him and give the child his name back,” McNally said.

Liam's (pictured) body was spotted by a group of hikers at around 7:30 a.m. May 28 at Mountain Springs Trailhead, near Milestone 20 of State Route 160 between the cities of Las Vegas and Pahrump

Liam’s (pictured) body was spotted by a group of hikers at around 7:30 a.m. May 28 at Mountain Springs Trailhead, near Milestone 20 of State Route 160 between the cities of Las Vegas and Pahrump

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