The boy’s mother is now in a Denver jail, arrested for murder, police said on Tuesday.
But the effort to name the boy – now known to be Liam Husted, 7 – required a police sketch, DNA tests and a worried father to make it happen.
Husted was with his mother, Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, according to his father.
He contacted police in San Jose, Calif., Regarding the pair who went missing on June 1, Las Vegas police said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The father told investigators he had not seen or heard from his son or Rodriguez since arriving on May 24 at the house they shared in San Jose to find all their belongings were missing.
Rodriguez reportedly left a message saying that she and the boy were leaving him and that she would find a new home for the two of them, Las Vegas Police Lt. Ray Spencer said at the press conference.
“There was nothing suspicious in this post that could lead the father to believe that Liam or Samantha was involved in any foul play or that there was harm, potentially to come next week,” Spencer said.
Not wanting to get Rodriguez in trouble and having no reason to believe Liam was in danger, Husted’s father chose not to file a parental abduction report, according to Spencer.
An identity error
The boy was found dead by hikers on May 28 near the Mountain Springs Trailhead on State Route 160, Las Vegas police said.
The police immediately released sketches to try to identify it. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also assisted in the search.
The FBI offered a reward of $ 10,000.
Investigators then released an improved image in hopes of obtaining information on the boy.
Crack in the case
On June 4, a friend of Rodriguez saw a sketch the police had released to the media and contacted the San Jose Police Department, Spencer said.
Spencer explained that the friend told police that Husted could be the child in the skit.
San Jose Police contacted LVMPD and investigators recovered a pillow from Husted’s bedroom, Spencer said.
This pillow provided the DNA that allowed the Las Vegas Police Forensic Lab to positively identify the body found on the trail as that of the 7-year-old from San Jose, according to Spencer.
Spencer said investigators learned Rodriguez was seen at a Las Vegas hotel on May 27 and believed Husted was still alive at that time.
CNN has yet to determine if she has a lawyer. It is not known when she will first appear in court.