A California woman who allegedly killed her 7-year-old son is not a “bad mom,” the father of the slain boy said at a vigil for the child Sunday, according to reports.
A distraught Nicholas Husted made the comment to a crowd of well wishers in Las Vegas’ Sunset Park as he thanked them for their concern for his son, Liam, who had been found dead on a mountain hiking trail outside the Nevada city on May 28.
“I don’t think she was a bad mom,” the San Jose, Calif., man said of Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. “She had a time of weakness, and she is going to pay for it.”
Four days before Liam’s body was discovered, Nicholas Husted returned to the couple’s San Jose home to find Rodriguez and their son gone, Las Vegas police Lt. Ray Spencer told reporters last Monday.
Rodriguez fled the residence in her 2007 Dodge Caliber packed full with belongings and left a message for Husted saying “I’m sorry, I had to do this,” police said.
“There was nothing suspicious in that message that would lead the father to believe that Liam, or Samantha, was, were involved in any kind of foul play or that there was any harm, potentially to come,” Spencer told reporters.
Nicholas Husted, who is not a suspect in the case, then contacted cops on June 1, Spencer said, adding that the couple are not married.
Husted said he last saw Liam — who had autism and was the pair’s only child — one day before police said Rodriguez left their home on May 24.
“I just had to come to show my appreciation for everything you guys did in this community to take him under your wing,” Husted told about a dozen Las Vegas locals in attendance. “The hardest part was knowing that he was left behind, but he was never by himself.”
Husted characterized his son as “one in a trillion,” saying the youngster was intelligent beyond his years who loved to cook and learned how to swim at just 2 years old. They had a barbecue together just before his disappearance, the distraught father recalled.
Husted, who wore a T-shirt with Liam’s photo on it and the boy’s favorite blanket around his neck, planned on reading a statement at the vigil, but was too overcome with emotion, KSNV reported.
Others in attendance, meanwhile, said they were outraged by the allegations that Rodriguez was involved in her son’s death despite not knowing the boy’s family.
“As a mom, it strikes every cord in my body,” Natalie Thompson told KSNV. “And I wish I could just be there to hug him and love him.”
Another woman, Dina Lynn, said she had been unable to sleep for weeks while following the case. Liam Husted had been initially dubbed John “Little Zion” Doe before a family friend told police she had not seen Rodriguez or the boy and recognized him from a rendering released by the FBI.
“That’s just the real hard part about it,” Andre Crockett, of Las Vegas, told KSNV. “You just throw a human away like he’s trash.”
Investigators were still working last week to determine a motive in the boy’s slaying, Spencer said.
An online fundraiser set up by Liam’s distraught father, meanwhile, had raised more than $36,000 as of Monday.
“The hardest part of all this is that he was taken away from me by the one person he should have been able to trust, so he must have been scared and confused and I just wasn’t there to protect him,” the shattered father wrote.
Rodriguez, who remains jailed Monday while awaiting extradition back to Las Vegas, is set to appear in a Denver courtroom Thursday, KVVU reported.
It’s unclear if Rodriguez has hired an attorney who could comment on the accusations.
With AP wires