Daniel Theriot, age three, was reported missing in Sunset Park, Las Vegas, early on Sunday morning by his mother, 20-year-old Cassie Smith. Now, a day later, she has been arrested on suspicion of murdering her own son after she led police to his body.
As reported by Fox News, Smith and her 40-year-old boyfriend Joshua Oxford are in custody on child abuse charges, with murder charges reportedly pending as the police continue their investigation.
Smith first called the police at approximately 9 AM on Sunday morning, claiming that she had taken her son to the park, but that he had wandered off while she was taking a phone call, and had not been able to find him again. It wasn’t long after authorities arrived on the scene that they became suspicious that her son had never been in the park that morning at all.
According to police, eye witnesses in the park claimed they had not seen the boy with his mother at any point, and none had been aware of a search for a missing child until the police had suddenly arrived on the scene, reported KATU.
Las Vegas Metro police, Red Rock Search and Rescue, Clark County Park police, Child Protective Services, FBI Child Abduction and Rapid Deployment team, and National Park Service had all responded to her call that Theriot was missing.
As their suspicions mounted, they opened a criminal investigation case as well. The search for Theriot continued into the night, and he was eventually found early on Monday morning at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer has stated that the boy likely died up to 12 hours before his mother ever called the emergency services to report him missing.
Smith is also the mother to a two-year-old son, who Child Protective Services took into custody during the search while he was being supervised by Oxford. He was transported to Sunrise Hospital, and after an examination by medical professionals, it was determined that he also showed signs of physical abuse. Oxford is not related to either child.
Speaking about how Theriot met his death, Spencer was not prepared to go into any details at this stage of the investigation.
“We do have an idea of how the child was killed. I will tell you that it is absolutely disturbing.”
The official cause of death will be announced following an autopsy, which will also be used to lay murder charges against the couple.
Following their arrests, they were both taken to Clark County Detention Center, where they were expected to be booked on the child abuse charges on Monday afternoon.