I-Team: Photos shed light on investigation into 7-year-old’s death, identification

I-Team

Child known for week as 'John Little Zion Doe'

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Photos presented to a grand jury in the murder case of a 7-year-old boy found deceased on a hiking trail focus on the child’s injuries as he remained unidentified for more than a week.

A grand jury indicted Samantha Moreno-Rodriguez, 35, of San Jose, California, Friday on a charge of murdering her son, Liam Husted. She was arrested in Denver in June.

Husted was found off a trail in Mountain Springs near Las Vegas on May 28. A photo shown to the grand jury shows the area, which contains several large bushes off the trail. Investigators said Husted was found by hikers naked and several feet off the trail behind a bush.

The I-Team obtained 12 photos of Husted’s body taken during his autopsy. The graphic photos showed his injuries which included a large gash on his head and strangulation marks on his neck.

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.”

A photo shows the coroner’s office could only identify Liam Husted as “John ‘Little Zion’ Doe.” (KLAS)

She then strangled and killed him, the investigator told the court. Another photo shows the coroner’s office could only identify him as “John ‘Little Zion’ Doe.”

A family friend saw the story in early June and contacted police who then positively identified the child.

“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,” an investigator told the court.

Liam Husted, 7, and his mother, Samantha Moreno Rodriguez

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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