I-Team: DNA on pillow helps police identify child found dead near Mountain Springs

I-Team

7-year-old's mother arrested on murder charge

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Investigators say they identified a child found dead last month near Mountain Springs by matching DNA to the boy’s pillow.

Police arrested his mother, Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, on Tuesday in Denver. Investigators say they believe she and her son, 7-year-old Liam Husted, stayed in a Las Vegas hotel on May 27.

Hikers found Liam’s body the next day.

Police shared DNA from Husted’s pillow matched DNA taken from the boy known only as John “Little Zion” Doe until Monday. Husted was reported missing on June 1.

On May 24, Husted’s father returned to his home in San Jose and noticed all of Liam’s and Samantha’s belongings were gone. Police said he also found a note left behind by Samantha that read: “I’m sorry I had to do it like this, I’m going to try and get a house for Liam and I, and we can talk about this in the future.”

On June 1, Husted’s father decided to contact San Jose police to document the incident, but he did not want to get Samantha in trouble and decided not to file a report to document the parental abduction, police said.

A photo of murdered child Liam Husted next to the digitally enhanced image police used to help identify him. (KLAS)

A family friend contacted police on June 4, saying she believed John “Little Zion” Doe could be Liam.

Over the weekend, police in San Jose reached out to Las Vegas Metro Police, saying they had a missing child who they believed could be the boy found in Mountain Springs. A DNA match then verified their suspicion.

Due to the ongoing investigation, police have not said how Husted died.

Rodriguez was booked into a Denver-area jail for one count of open murder, pending extradition to Las Vegas.

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