Samuel Olson’s sixth birthday was May 29. He had been reported missing two days earlier by his father, Dalton Olson, whose girlfriend was reportedly the last person to see the boy alive.
On June 8, an autopsy conducted on the decomposed remains of the little boy showed he died from “homicidal violence” and blunt force head trauma.
What Happened to Sam Olson?
Since he was reported missing, Houston police said the case has been hampered by confusing twists and turns, largely because of “inconsistencies” in statements from Theresa Balboa, the dad’s romantic partner.
Balboa and Sam’s remains were discovered June 1 in a Best Western motel room in Jasper, Texas, more than 130 miles from the boy’s hometown of Houston.
Here is what is known about Samuel’s disappearance.
A Timeline of the Tragic Case of Samuel Olson Thus Far
April 30: Samuel Olson Is Last Seen Alive
This is the last day Sam attended Holbrook Elementary School, authorities said. This was also the last sighting of Samuel by anyone outside his family, according to Houston police.
May 27: Samuel Olson Is Reported Missing
Dalton Olson summons police at 6 p.m. to his mother’s southwest Houston home, where he and Balboa report Samuel is missing. Balboa tells investigators that Samuel’s biological mother and a uniformed officer had arrived at the house early that morning and demanded custody of the boy.
“I was going to take Sam to school when his mother showed up with a police officer, or what I was under the impression to be a police officer, and they demanded me to release Sam,” Balboa told reporters days later as volunteers searched for Sam.
“They had a full police uniform. They had a gun, handcuffs, everything. I thought it was a Harris County police officer because on the badge it said Harris County,” she said. “I had no choice but to hand him over,” she said, because Olson and the child’s mother were in a custody battle.
Balboa would later say the man was a fake cop. Days later, Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Heather Morris said investigators were provided with evidence showing Samuel’s mom did not leave her house that morning. The mother, Sarah Olson, said she did not know her son’s whereabouts, Morris said.
May 29: The Search for Samuel Olson Intensifies
Houston Police issue a media alert for the young boy, but make no mention of the uniformed officer in Balboa’s initial statement. Texas EquuSearch, a nonprofit organization, joins the search for Samuel.
Sam’s mother, Sarah Olson, posts a photo of a birthday cake, balloons and candles on her Facebook page. “I love you Samuel. I pray you’re ok. I love you my baby. Happy bday,” she wrote. Her attorney would later say she had primary custody of Sam, but had not seen him in months because the boy’s father had not returned him.
May 31: Police Speak to the Media About Samuel Olson
Houston police hold the department’s first press briefing on Sam’s disappearance.
“No one seems to know where he is,” Houston Police Department spokesman Larry Satterwhite told reporters that evening. The child was reported missing about 6 p.m. May 27, he said. But he may have gone missing weeks ago, Satterwhite said.
The last time Samuel was seen by someone outside his family was on April 30, the last day he attended school, Satterwhite said. “We’re looking everywhere,” he said.
But earlier that day, Balboa and Dalton Olson appeared at one of the search sites for Samuel. Balboa repeated the version of events she had earlier told police about the fake police officer and Samuel’s mother. Olson sobbed and said “I’ve literally tried to do everything from the very beginning to do what’s best for my son,” he tells KTRK-TV journalists at the site. “That is my whole world and I can’t imagine if anything happened to him and I believe he’s still out there.”
Tim Miller, the founder of EquuSearch, told the station, “I’ve worked many, many of these cases. I don’t have a good feeling. Nobody can find out anybody that’s credible that can tell us the last time he was seen and where,” Miller said.
His words were prophetic.
A Body Is Found and Hope Vanishes for Samuel Olson
June 1: Remains Are Found in the Search for Samuel Olson
Late that night, media reports surface that authorities in Jasper, Texas, more than 130 miles from Houston, have found a child’s body in a Best Western motel room. Also in the room was Theresa Balboa, the reports said.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner tweets the victim is believed to be Samuel.
Theresa Balboa Is Arrested in Connection With the Case
June 2: Samuel Olson’s Father’s Girlfriend Is Taken Into Custody
“This is an absolute tragic event. Our hearts go out to his family,” Heather Morris, the assistant chief of the Houston Police Department, told reporters.
She announced Balboa, 29, was being held at the Jasper County Jail, awaiting transfer to Houston authorities. She faces charges of tampering with evidence, Morris said. The assistant chief also released further details from the ongoing investigation, but cautioned she couldn’t answer many questions because several people, including Dalton Olson, were still being questioned.
Balboa had been out on bond pending trial for an assault charge involving Dalton Olson, who reported in November that Balboa had choked him, Morris said. According to online court records, Balboa was freed on $15,000 bail and her arraignment is scheduled for June 24.
Investigators searched Balboa’s apartment and impounded her car, Morris said, because of “inconsistencies in Balboa’s statements.”
July 8: Theresa Balboa Charged With Capital Murder
Harris County prosecutors filed a capital murder charge against Balboa, saying she caused Sam’s death by hitting him with a blunt object, which was not identified. They also requested she be held without bail pending trial. The criminal complaint said Sam died on around May 12.
The prosecution said it has not decided whether to seek the death penalty.
More Details Emerge About Samuel’s Disappearance
June 3: Theresa Balboa’s Roommate Reveals Samuel Olson May Have Been Dead Since May 10
An arrest warrant affidavit said Balboa’s roommate told investigators he arrived home May 10 to find Samuel bruised and unresponsive on the bed. He and Balboa put the boy’s body in a bathtub and left him there for two days, according to the document.
On May 13, the roommate said he bought duct tape and a plastic box from a Walmart, and he and Balboa wrapped the child’s body, placed it in the box and took it to a storage unit.
Court documents also said Balboa left the search site on May 31 after talking to reporters and met a friend, who accompanied her to a storage unit. The pair picked up a black-and-yellow plastic container that had a foul odor, the court records said. The friend then drove Balboa to the Best Western motel in Jasper and left her there, the documents said.
He called police June 1, which led police to room 106, where Balboa and the remains were found, according to authorities.
An Autopsy Is Completed
June 8: Remains Officially Identified As Belonging to Samuel Olson
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston announced a preliminary autopsy had formally identified Samuel Olson’s body. “The cause of his death is homicidal violence with blunt head trauma,” said the institute, which conducts all autopsies in the Texas county.