I-Team: Mother told investigators she strangled boy on hike, took cues from TV crime shows


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The mother accused of murdering her 7-year-old son and leaving him naked on a hiking trail told investigators she strangled the boy for 10-15 minutes, court documents obtained by the I-Team say.

A grand jury indicted Samantha Moreno-Rodriguez, 35, of San Jose, California, Friday on a charge of murder. Liam Husted was found off a trail in Mountain Springs near Las Vegas in May.

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

Investigators said Moreno-Rodriguez left San Jose with her son to start a new life.

Liam’s father and Moreno-Rodriguez’s partner, Nicholas Husted, told the grand jury he came home to a voicemail from Moreno-Rodriguez, saying she had left with their son. He did not know at the time she had left the San Jose area.

“I wasn’t worried about her; I was just kind of worried in general about them together, you know, if they were safe,” he told the grand jury. “All [of Liam’s] clothes were gone, all his toys were gone, and the same with her stuff, Samantha’s clothes, shoes, purse, all their belongings basically were gone. So, yeah, I was left with basically everything that’s mine.”

A detective testified to the grand jury that Moreno-Rodriguez became frustrated with Liam while on a hike.

“Samantha indicated that she pushed Liam causing him to fall and hit his head,” the investigators told the grand jury. “She said that she also fell during this process and then after Liam fell and hit his head he started screaming, top of his lungs, louder than she had ever heard him scream before and she wasn’t so sure how to stop him from crying. The things that she had tried in the past to calm him down weren’t working and now he’s been injured by falling and hitting his head so he’s screaming at the top of his, as she describes it at the top of his lungs.”

Liam Husted, 7, with his father, Nicholas Husted. (KLAS)

She then strangled and killed him, the investigator told the court.

“Samantha indicated that she had watched television crime shows and thought that by removing his clothing, it would make it more difficult to associate him with her after she left the area,” the investigator told the court.

When police arrested Moreno-Rodriguez in Denver, she was having breakfast with a man she had met days earlier, investigators told the I-Team.

Her next court date is set for Wednesday morning.

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