I-Team: Mother accused of murdering 7-year-old son was having breakfast with man she just met before arrest

I-Team

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The mother accused of killing her 7-year-old son was having breakfast with a man she had met days earlier when police arrested her, the I-Team has learned.

Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35, of San Jose, California, is accused of killing her son, Liam Husted, and leaving his body in Mountain Springs near Las Vegas last month.

Police arrested Moreno Rodriguez earlier this month in Denver. On May 28, hikers told police the then-unidentified child was found eight feet off a dirt road near several bushes.

“I’m sorry I had to do it like this,” is part of the message Moreno Rodriguez left for her partner and Liam’s father before she took off with the boy in late May, police said. “I’m going to try and get a house for Liam and I, and we can talk about this in the future.”

But days later, Liam was dead.

“There’s every indication that when she left San Jose that she was intending on starting a new life,” Las Vegas Metro Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told the I-Team.

Glimpses of that new life can be seen in Moreno Rodriguez’s booking photo, which was taken just hours after her June 8 arrest.

Samantha Moreno-Rodriguez (KLAS)

“She was dressed up and had makeup,” Spencer said, adding she was eating with a man she had met days earlier when police came into the restaurant and took her into custody.

Less than two weeks before that, Moreno Rodriguez and her son had checked into a Las Vegas hotel. A day later, Liam was found dead. Using databases from license plate readers, police tracked the mother’s car from northern California to Southern California to Southern Nevada. The car was then tracked to Colorado on May 29.

“We were very fortunate that that hiker went behind that bush that morning,” Spencer said.

Investigators believe Moreno Rodriguez killed Liam early in the morning on May 28, leaving him naked and dragging his body behind a bush. His clothing was never found.

“We knew from the examination of Liam’s body that someone was having a difficult time moving him,” Spencer said.

Police said Liam’s body had multiple scrapes, but his official cause of death has not been released.

Now, the 24 detectives who worked the case around the clock, looking into 500 tips, are taking a well-deserved break.

“At the end, when everything comes out about how much work went into this case, it’s just an unbelievable effort by this police department to hold someone responsible for what they did,” Spencer said.

With many answers in place, one big question remains.

“’Why did this occur?’” Spencer asked. “The only person who can answer that is Samantha.”

Moreno Rodriguez waived her right to an extradition hearing in Colorado last week, which will speed the process of bringing her to face charges in Clark County.       

No date has been set, but Moreno Rodriguez is expected to be back in Nevada within a few weeks. The Denver judge set a July court date to confirm that she has been transported to Clark County.

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