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Woman Admitted to Strangling 7-Year-Old Special Needs Son Found Dead on Las Vegas Hiking Trail: Prosecutor

Mugshot of Samantha Moreno Rodriguez

Samantha Moreno Rodriguez

A woman accused of murdering her young son admitted to strangling and disrobing him before abandoning his body, a prosecutor said in an initial court appearance on Wednesday.

“This is a pretty egregious case,” Deputy District Attorney John Giordani said at the hearing for Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35, in Clark County, Nevada, according to an Associated Press report. “She essentially said that she became frustrated with the child and strangled him.”

Officially speaking, the cause and manner of death have yet to be determined by a coroner.

Rodriguez, a California resident, is the woman who allegedly left her son Liam Husted, 7, dead on the Mountain Springs Trailhead near Las Vegas.  Other hikers found him on May 28.  The child was initially unidentified but efforts to name him reportedly resulted in a friend of the mother seeing news coverage on June 4 about a so-called John “Little Zion” Doe on television. This friend contacted police in San Jose, California. That in turn resulted in Liam being identified.

The mother allegedly took Liam from their home on May 24, left her phone, and sent the child’s father Nicholas Husted a voicemail stating that she was sorry. “I had to do this,” she allegedly said in an apparent reference to taking the child — adding that she was going to get a house for Liam and for herself and that she could speak to Husted about the matter in the future. Las Vegas police Lt. Ray Spencer said, however, that this alleged move was not immediately suspicious because the parents had been having relationship problems for about two years. The father only reported the message to the police on June 1, saying he did not initially step forward because he did not want to get Rodriguez in trouble, according to authorities.

Grandfather Chris Husted said the child had special needs, was “at a disadvantage,” and was “dependent on others’ kindness,” according to KTVU. “Unfortunately, his mother took that away.”

Rodriguez was appointed a public defender during Wednesday’s hearing. She is being held without bail.

A GoFundMe campaign for Husted’s family raised $39,418 of a $20,000 goal as of Wednesday.

Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.

[Mugshot via Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department]

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