The father of missing 5-year-old Samuel Olson says he “can barely breathe” after his girlfriend was arrested following the discovery of what is believed to be the body of the young boy in a Texas motel room.
“Why? He loved you so much. I do not understand what happened. Why did you, why did you do this?” Dalton Olson said he’d ask his girlfriend, Theresa Balboa, following her arrest, local news station KRPC-2 reported.
Houston Assistant Chief Heather Morris on Wednesday confirmed that Balboa, 29, has been charged with tampering with evidence in connection with Olson’s case. The boy’s disappearance was reported on May 27, but investigators now believe he’d been missing for weeks after finding inconsistencies in statements from Balboa and the boy’s father.
Morris said Balboa’s arrest came after authorities received an anonymous tip that the child was inside a Best Western motel room. When investigators arrived, Balboa was in the room and immediately taken into custody. She has been released on bond. Morris said investigators are still waiting for the medical examiner to confirm that the body found inside the room was indeed Samuel Olson.
The Houston Police Department said Olson was first reported missing from his home at around 6 p.m. on May 27, after officers received a report that the boy had been taken by an unknown male.
When officers responded, Balboa claimed she had turned Samuel over to his mother and a police officer that morning. She also claimed that the cop had told her she would go to jail if she refused to hand over the boy. Balboa told her boyfriend that after she complied with the request to hand over the boy, Samuel’s mother, Sarah Olson, and the officer left in separate cars.
“Once [Dalton] heard this story from Ms. Balboa, he contacted Samuel’s mother and she told him that Samuel was not with her,” Morris said, adding that investigators later confirmed that Sarah Olson was at her house the entire day.
Morris said investigators also learned that the last time Samuel Olson was seen by someone other than a family member was on April 30 at Holbrook Elementary School. His grandmother told police she saw him on May 2, when the boy and his cousins visited her home.
The assistant chief added that as investigators tried to determine a timeline for Olson’s disappearance, they spoke to Balboa several times—and continued to find inconsistencies in her story. Balboa also told KTRK the bizarre tale, stating that she was about to take the 5-year-old to school when “his mother showed up with a police officer... and they demanded me to release Sam.” She told the news outlet she complied because Samuel’s parents were in the midst of a custody battle and she had no legal rights over the boy.
On Tuesday, police executed a search warrant in an apartment where Balboa had been staying. Morris added that investigators also searched a car they believe Balboa drove.
Hours later, authorities found a body in a Jasper, Texas motel room, about two hours away from the child’s hometown.
Morris said that while investigators are still trying to determine a motive behind Olson’s death, they do not believe his father is a “person of interest.” She added that the investigation is still active.
Balboa may face additional charges in the case, police said. She was reportedly out on bond from an assault case last November in which Dalton Olson was the complainant. She was charged at the time with assault with intent impeding breath.
According to KPRC-2, Balboa also lost custody of her own young daughters in 2019 after skipping a custody hearing.
Texas EquuSearch founder Tim Miller, who helped search for the 5-year-old and was with the father when a body was found, told KHOU-11 he called out Balboa after hearing her version of events, telling her that “every word you’re saying is a lie.”
“And that’s when things started unraveling, I think,” he said.
An attorney for Sarah Olson said in a Tuesday night press conference that his client has not seen her son since January 2020. While Sarah Olson has primary custody of the 5-year-old, attorney Marco Gonzalez said that she “has been denied access” to him “for many months” after Dalton Olson took him.
Gonzalez added that Balboa’s story is “completely untrue” and noted that there are “too many holes in that story.”
“All I want is JUSTICE FOR SAMUEL my baby,” his mother said in a statement through her lawyer on Wednesday. “I do not want people to forget Samuel’s name. Please Let the outside world know that I’m heartbroken, but I believe that body is my baby.”