Mom accused of killing 7-year-old son near Vegas arrested in Denver

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A California woman wanted by Las Vegas police in the killing of her 7-year-old son was arrested in Denver Tuesday, authorities said. A FBI-led task force arrested Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35, in a Denver hotel room, CBS San Francisco reports.

The body of her son, Liam Husted, was found by hikers outside Las Vegas in Mountain Springs, Nevada, on May 28, the FBI said. Rodriguez and Husted had been living with Husted's father in San Jose, California, until May 24, when the father learned Rodriguez had left with the boy.

According to CBS San Francisco, Rodriguez left a message for the father in which she said, "I'm sorry I had to do it like this," and she also said she intended to find a house for her and Husted and that she would speak with the father later. The father, who is not married to Rodriguez, told San Jose police June 1 he hadn't seen them in a few days.

"At that time, he was not sure if he wanted to pursue any type of, you know, child stealing, parental abduction charges on Mom," San Jose police Sergeant Christian Camarillo told reporters.

Samantha Moreno Rodriguez in an undated photo / Credit: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department / CBS San Francisco
Samantha Moreno Rodriguez in an undated photo / Credit: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department / CBS San Francisco

Las Vegas police identified Rodriguez as a suspect in Husted's death Monday, when Husted was identified as the deceased boy. A family friend saw a digitally enhanced photo of him being circulated by authorities. The friend contacted San Jose police, who reached out to investigators in Las Vegas, Camarillo said.

Before Husted's identity was revealed publicly. he was known by authorities as John "Little Zion" Doe.

"While the outcome is heartbreaking, there is a sense of closure," Supervisory Special Agent Jeremy Schwartz of the FBI's Las Vegas field office said in a statement after Rodriguez's arrest. "Liam Husted will no longer be referred to as John 'Little Zion' Doe."

Rodriguez is awaiting extradition from Colorado, Las Vegas police said.

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