2:05 PM PDT, July 12, 2021
Chained and shackled, Theresa Balboa made her first court appearance on Monday since being charged with capital murder in the killing of 5-year-old Samuel Olson, her boyfriend’s son.
New details emerged during the hearing, in which Harris County Judge Hazel Jones ruled there was sufficient evidence to try 29-year-old Balboa for capital murder. The charge was filed last week by prosecutors.
Harris County Assistant District Attorney Andrea Beall told the court Balboa should be held without bail and that she intended to take the case to a grand jury for an indictment.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Beal said investigators had corroborated statements from Balboa’s roommate that she had called him at work in early May saying, “I think I’ve killed him,” prosecutors said. Balboa and the boy had been in quarantine at her apartment after a possible coronavirus exposure, authorities said.
Balboa has been in custody since June 1, when Sam’s “foul-smelling” remains were found in a Jasper County Best Western motel. She had been charged with evidence tampering involving a human corpse. The murder count was filed Thursday and marks the first time anyone has been accused of killing the boy, who was reported missing on May 27 by his dad, Dalton Olson, and Balboa.
Prosecutors now say the child died on or around May 12, after Balboa struck him with a blunt object, according to the Harris County criminal complaint.
Sarah Olson, the boy’s mother, said Friday she was angry that her ex-husband has not been charged in connection with their son’s killing. The parents were involved in a bitter custody dispute, with the mother saying Dalton Olson had kidnapped their son a year ago and refused to return him.
“I am thankful for (Balboa) getting charged for the murder, but I know for a fact someone else needs to be charged and he’s still out there just running around free,” Olson said. “It’s Sam’s father. It’s Dalton Olson. He was supposed to keep our son safe, and he didn’t. He took him away from me, for what? To have him murdered?”
Through his attorney, Dalton Olson has denied any involvement in his son’s disappearance or death.
In November, Balboa was charged with assault for allegedly choking Dalton Olson and was under a court-issued restraining order to have no contact with him or his family.
Benjamin Rivera, 27, Balboa’s roommate, has also been charged with evidence tampering. According to his criminal complaint, Rivera told investigators he had arrived home to find Samuel’s bruised body lying on a bed. He then helped Balboa move the child to their bathtub, where the body remained for two days, the complaint said. The two later took the body, encased in a plastic container, to a storage facility.
A third person, Dylan Walker, 27, was charged with evidence tampering, Texas state police told Inside Edition. He picked up Balboa on May 31 and took her and the container to a motel in Jasper, where he left them, investigators said. He went home and called Crime Stoppers to report where she was, authorities said.
Beall said Monday she does not expect further charges to be filed against Rivera or Walker. Both are free on bond and are cooperating with investigators, authorities said.
“I was reviewing the evidence in terms of the laboratory evidence and the cell phones that we received and making sure that we could in fact corroborate the statements of Benjamin Rivera in regards to who was responsible for the death of Samuel Olson, and after reviewing that I’m confident that I can meet my burden in this case and get justice for little Samuel,” she told reporters after Monday’s hearing.
The district attorney’s office has not yet decided whether to pursue the death penalty against Balboa.