Samuel Olson: Autopsy reveals cause of death of five-year-old who was found in a plastic box in a hotel room

Harris County prosecutor says murder or capital murder investigation is pending in case

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 09 June 2021 15:26 EDT
Autopsy results released in death of 5-year-old Samuel Olson

Samuel Olson, the five-year-old boy who was found stuffed in a tote bin in a Texas hotel room, died of blunt force trauma to the head, an autopsy has shown.

His decomposing body was found in a plastic tote bin in his dad’s girlfriend’s hotel room in Jasper, east Texas on 1 June after having been missing since 10 May. Samuel’s death has officially been ruled a homicide.

The father’s girlfriend, Theresa Balboa, 29, is being held on a $600,000 bond and has been charged with tampering with evidence – a human corpse. But prosecutors have said that they expect more charges will be added.

Ms Balboa was arrested on 1 June when she was found at a Best Western hotel in Jasper, with Samuel’s body in a plastic tote bin in her room. Police believe the boy had been dead since 10 May.

Ms Balboa reported Samuel missing on 27 May while at home in Houston. The authorities said they think she was making her way to Louisiana when she was apprehended more than 100 miles away from her home.

Prosecutors said more charges will be added as Ms Balboa appeared in court on Monday. Her bond was raised to $600.000 because of Samuel’s death and an alleged assault six months before the child disappeared.

Prosecutor Andrea Beall from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said a murder or capital murder investigation is pending in the case.

Samuel’s grandmother, Tonya Olson, has said that she last saw him alive on the weekend of 8 May.

He was last seen by someone outside the family on 30 April, when he attended school. Ms Balboa reported him missing almost a month later.

Court documents state that her roommate told authorities that Ms Balboa called him on 10 May and said Samuel was dead.

Benjamin Rivera, the roommate, hurried home from work, finding the boy in bed, unresponsive and with bruises. Mr Rivera and Ms Balboa allegedly moved the body to their bathtub, where it stayed for the next two days.

Mr Rivera told police that he bought duct tape and a plastic bin from Walmart on 13 May, later wrapping the body along with Ms Balboa and putting it in the bin and later moving it to a storage locker.

She called a friend on 31 May, asking him to pick her up in the parking lot of a Walmart in Cleveland, Texas, northeast of Houston. They drove 70 miles to the south where Ms Balboa picked up the bin from the storage locker. After that, they reportedly drove another 160 miles northeast to the Best Western in Jasper, Texas.

They carried the bin to room 106, but the man was so disturbed by the smell emanating from the box that he anonymously called a CrimeStoppers tip line to make a report.

Law enforcement arrived at the scene and found Ms Balboa and the box holding the boy’s body.

Tiffany Schultz, 25, moved into the apartment next door to Ms Balboa in Webster, southeast of Houston, with her fiance and son on 11 May, a day after Samuel is thought to have died.

“The second day we were here, it was probably about 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, we heard loud scratching noises, really, really loud,” she told The Sun. ”It lasted for a good ten or fifteen minutes.”

“I’ve heard loud scratching from animals before and it wasn’t that, I don’t believe they had animals,” Ms Schultz said. “We didn’t hear any other noises, it was strange.”

Samuel’s parents, Sarah and Dalston Olson, filed for divorce in January 2020 and subsequently fought for the custody of their child.

The mother’s lawyer, Marco Gonzalez, told reporters this week that while she had primary custody, she had not seen her son since the summer of 2020. The lawyer accused the father of keeping Samuel away from Sarah Olson and of evading being served legal paperwork that would have had a court order him to return Samuel to his mother.

Ms Balboa accused Mr Gonzalez and a man who presented himself as an officer of taking the boy after she reported him missing. Police were not able to verify this accusation. Samuel had been living with Ms Balboa since 30 April. Mr Dalton lived elsewhere.

Ms Balboa previously lost custody over two of her own young daughters in 2019, following accusations that she had been a bad mother.

Click2Houston obtained court documents that showed that the girls, now eight and six years old, were taken from their mother after she didn’t appear at a custody hearing in court.

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