Police Identify Boy Found Murdered, Dumped On Vegas Hiking Trail As 7-Year-Old Liam Husted
There is now an arrest warrant for the child’s mother, 35-year-old Samantha Moreno Rodriguez. She is believed to be traveling in a 2007 dark blue Dodge Caliber, license plate 6WLH211.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the identification of John “Little Zion” Doe, or the identification, arrest, and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for his death. [via National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]
On May 28, 2021, the FBI said the body of a young boy was discovered by hikers off of a trail in Mountain Springs between Las Vegas and Pahrump, Nevada. No one has stepped up to identify or say the Hispanic male victim, who is now known nationwide as John “Little Zion” Doe, was a member of their family. The body was found around 7:30 a.m. by a group of hikers in brush off the main highway, police said.
According to ABC News, FBI supervisory special agent Jeremy Schwartz said during a recent press conference, "This child has the right to be referred to by his given name. He's someone's son, someone's grandson and he deserves law enforcement's commitment to solving this case. We are counting on the public to help us with his identification."
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) worked quickly to create a digitally enhanced photo of what “Little Zion” may have looked like when he was alive. The images, according to the FBI, were created from photos shared by the medical examiner handling the case.
The release of those images prompted one mother to come forward in this case. Reports said she saw the images and thought the child was possibly her own. She went as far as to identifying the actual autopsy photos of the child, reports add.
Authorities took the lead very seriously and tracked down the father of her children. Jose Montes spoke out to Fox5 Las Vegas about the situation. He said he wanted to take his children somewhere fun for the long Memorial Day holiday weekend. Montes also said he told his brother to let the family know he and his children wouldn’t have cell phone service to a place they planned to camp in Utah.
Montes said it wasn’t until he stopped in a small town when he and his children were reportedly detained by police. The family was held for a period of time before being let go. Montes isn’t angry, but he did speak out to clear his name, according to the report. Montes said he wants to draw attention to his situation, which will hopefully in turn give more exposure to the “Little Zion” who was found murdered. Montes said he would like to set up a GoFundMe to raise funds to hire a private investigator to help in the case.
It is believed, according to the FBI, that “Little Zion” was 8 and 10 years old, stood 4 foot 11 inches tall, weighed 123 pounds and had brown eyes and black hair. ABC 7 said the child had a gap in between his front teeth. It’s possible the child lived in either Nevada or California, authorities believe.
The cause and manner of death has not been released, the report added, but detectives do consider this a murder investigation. Investigators are hoping anyone who was driving along State Route 160 between midnight on May 27 and 7 a.m. on May 28 to have the courage to come forward, especially if they saw something “unusual.”
If you know anything at all about this case, please contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's homicide unit directly at 702-828-3521.