Las Vegas police have identified a young boy found dead in a forest 10 days ago and issued a murder warrant for the arrest of his mother.
Authorities used DNA to determine the child, previously known only as Little Zion, is Liam Husted, 7, of San Jose, California. They are now searching for Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35.
Mother and son left California in a blue Dodge Caliber on May 24 and drove to Southern California and then to Nevada. Moreno Rodriguez was last seen at a Denver motel on May 31.
No cause of death has been given for Liam, but police said he was the victim of a homicide. A hiker came upon his body, dumped at a trailhead, a week ago.
Police initially put out sketches of the child, which led to a woman mistakenly claiming the unidentified child as her own. It turned out her son was on a camping trip with his father and brother.
Days later, a San Jose woman concerned that she had not seen Moreno Rodriguez or Liam in two weeks saw the sketch of “Little Zion” and noted a resemblance.
That woman, a family friend, called San Jose police, who reached out to Las Vegas cops. A Vegas detective then flew to San Jose to get clothing and a pillow that belonged to Liam.
The crime lab then confirmed a match between the DNA on the items and the boy found in the woods.
Lt. Ray Spencer of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said he had to tell the boy’s father, who reported him missing on June 1, that he was dead.
“It’s a heartbreaking conversation to have,” Spencer said at a Monday press conference.