When Cassie Smith called police on Sept. 2, the mother said her 3-year-old son had gone missing at a park in Las Vegas.
That call prompted a massive search by authorities and a K-9 unit, police say, leading law enforcement officials to a grisly discovery. A police report says officials found the dead body of Smith’s toddler, Daniel Theriot, stuffed in a white box “out in the desert,” Fox5 reported.
Then, police say, Smith’s original story about her son disappearing at a park unraveled. Authorities arrested Smith, 20, and her fiancé Joshua Oxford, 40, and charged them with first-degree murder after they allegedly confessed to disciplining the toddler to death, according to The Las Vegas Review-Journal.
A police report says Oxford first spanked Daniel because the couple said the boy had a “bad attitude,” according to Las Vegas Now. When that didn’t work, Oxford poured water on the 3-year-old, police say, and then resorted to heating water on the stove to douse on the boy, Las Vegas Now reported.
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Smith watched as her fiancé dumped hot water on the boy, who yelled out “ow,” police say. According to Las Vegas Now, Oxford’s mom Kathy Evans then watched the boy as the couple ran to do errands.
In her interview with police, Evans said her son again began to hit Daniel when the man returned from the 45-minute trip, according to The Las Vegas Review-Journal. The 40-year-old was upset that his mother let the boy lie down on the ground, Evans allegedly told authorities, according to the Review-Journal.
“I told him, ‘Just leave [Daniel] alone. Just let him lay there,’” Evans told police, according to Fox5. “I never saw any bruises on him. I never saw anything. I didn’t see bruises.” Evans allegedly told authorities that she didn’t witness her son pour hot water on the toddler, Fox5 reported.
The following day, Smith found her 3-year-old dead, she later told police, the station reported. Police say the mother hid her boy’s body and made up a story “to avoid going to prison,” according to Fox5, while Oxford said both he and his fiancee are responsible in the boy’s death.
James Theriot, the dead boy’s biological father, said he hopes to achieve justice for Daniel, News3 reported.
“I do not want them to see the light of day,” he said, according to the TV station. “The only thing I want them to see or smell is the nice cold, concrete cell in which now they are going to be living in.”
Both Smith and Oxford have a bail of $100,000, News3 noted. Theriot also has a 2-year-old son, who police say was in the custody of Smith and found with signs of child abuse. Both Smith and Oxford are charged with child abuse in the case of that surviving toddler, whom Theriot said he is bringing back to his home in Texas.
Oxford is due in court on Nov. 26, Las Vegas Now reported, while Smith has a hearing on Sept. 20.