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Missing 3-year-old found dead; mother, boyfriend suspected

LAS VEGAS – Police found the body of a 3-year-old boy Monday in a remote area near Lake Mead, a day after sharing a photo shows him with a broad smile in a pirate costume.

His 20-year-old mother of Cassie Smith and her friend, the 40-year-old Joshua Oxford, have been arrested on suspicion of child abuse in connection with the treatment of the 3-year-old younger brother and is also likely to be charged with murder in the death of the older boy, police said.

Officers became suspicious Sunday when Smith reported her toddler son, Daniel Theriot is missing on the Las Vegas park. The police distributed the picture of the blonde boy as part of their quest.

“I will tell you that it absolutely was disturbing how the child is, we believe, was killed,” police Lt. Ray Spencer said during a news briefing.

Spencer ruled out the possibility that the boy’s death would have been an accident and said authorities believe he was killed, at least 12 hours before his mother gives him is missing.

Police say the boy, the younger brother of a 2-year-old, was taken from the family home and showed signs of abuse. He is in the custody of the child services department.

Smith’s story unraveled not long after the police began an exhaustive search of the park, where she reported him missing, Spencer said.

He said no witnesses had seen them in the park, and it didn’t make sense that they were there in the first place, as there is another park within walking distance of the house of the family.

The murder came less than two weeks after Las Vegas police found a 3-year-old girl dead in a bag on the inside of her family’s apartment.

Police say the 29-year-old Aisha Yvonne Thomas, the mother of the girl, lied about her daughter going missing. An autopsy found she died from blunt trauma before her body was found Aug. 23.

Thomas is being held without bond and will plead not guilty, said her lawyer.

Smith and Oxford were arrested Monday and no lawyer is listed for them on booking records.

Spencer said both cases were very disturbing.

“If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot care for your child, you can take your child to a fire station, you can take your child to a hospital, but this is absolutely, I mean, it is difficult to deal with,” Spencer said.

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