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Boy whose decomposing body was ‘stuffed in a bin’ died from blunt force trauma, autopsy reveals

The five-year-old boy whose decomposing body was found in a plastic bin in an East Texas motel room died from blunt force trauma to the head, an autopsy has revealed, and his death has officially been ruled a homicide.  

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Science in Houston, which conducted the autopsy, confirmed the boy’s identity is Samuel Olson, who would have turned six on May 29.  

Theresa Raye Balboa, 29, who was the girlfriend of Samuel’s father Dalton, is the main suspect in Olson’s death and has already been charged with tampering with evidence, a human corpse. 

Balboa was arrested on June 1 when police found her at a Best Western motel in Jasper, Texas with Olson’s body, which was stuffed in a plastic tote. Police believe the boy had been dead since May 10.

Balboa had reported Olson missing from her home in suburban Houston on May 27, and officials said they believe she was on her way to Louisiana when she was found at the motel 135 miles away. 

Samuel Olson’s death has been ruled blunt force trauma to the head, according to an autopsy

Balboa pictured with Samuel's father Dalton Olson before the boy's body was found and she was arrested in connection to his death

Balboa pictured with Samuel’s father Dalton Olson before the boy’s body was found and she was arrested in connection to his death

Samuel Olson was last seen by a family member on May 8, when his grandmother spent the weekend

Samuel Olson was last seen by a family member on May 8, when his grandmother spent the weekend

Theresa Balboa (in mug) will face more charges over the death of her boyfriend's five-year-old son

Theresa Balboa (in mug) will face more charges over the death of her boyfriend’s five-year-old son

During Balboa’s Monday court appearance, prosecutors said more charges will be added but didn’t say what charges, when and how many more.  

Balboa’s bond was also hiked up to $600,000 in total over Samuel’s death and a separate alleged assault six months prior to the child’s disappearance. 

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

TIMELINE OF SAMUEL OLSON CASE:

April 30: Samuel Olson, 5, seen for the last time by anyone outside his family

May 8-9: Samuel’s paternal grandmother, Tonya Olson, says she spent the weekend with her grandson

May 10: Theresa Balboa, girlfriend of Samuel’s father, Dalton Olson, allegedly calls a roommate to tell him that Samuel had died. The two  allegedly place the body in their bathtub

May 13: The roommate and Balboa allegedly wrap the body in duct tape and place it in a plastic bin before taking it to a  storage unit in Webster

May 27: Balboa reports Samuel missing in Houston  

June 1: Police in Jasper, Texas, receive anonymous tip that leads them to Best Western motel, where they find Balboa and later child’s body in a plastic bin 

June 2: Police in Houston announce discovery of body, Balboa’s arrest and evidence tampering charge, with ID of remains still pending.  

June 3: Details of Balboa’s meeting with a man in Walmart emerge, as its claimed he helped transport child’s body. Balboa is also revealed to have lost custody of her own young daughters in 2019.

June 4: Balboa is transferred from Jasper County to Harris County jail and is ordered held on $500,000 bond  

Balboa didn’t speak during Monday’s brief court hearing.  

The last time Olson was seen alive by his paternal grandmother, Tonya Olson, was May 8, when she says she spent the weekend with him. 

His last verified sighting by someone outside of his family was on April 30 at his school. 

Balboa wouldn’t report the boy missing until May 27.  

After her arrest, Balboa’s roommate told investigators she called him May 10 and said the boy was dead, according to court documents. 

Roommate Benjamin Rivera had reportedly rushed home from work to find the boy, bruised and unresponsive in bed, and the two allegedly moved the body into their bathtub where it remained for two days. 

The next day, on May 13, Rivera told police he purchased duct tape and a plastic bin from Walmart, and he and Balboa allegedly wrapped the boy’s body and placed it in the bin before transporting it to a nearby storage locker. 

The net closed in on Balboa following a tip off from a friend. 

The 29-year-old had reportedly called a friend on May 31, and asked him to pick her up at a Walmart parking lot in Cleveland.

They then drove nearly 70 miles south to the storage facility in Webster where she retrieved the bin.

They then allegedly drove another 160 miles northeast to the Best Western motel.

Once there, they carried the bin inside room 106, with the man so horrified by the smell coming from it that he made an anonymous call to CrimeStoppers tipline to report it. 

Officers responding to the scene found her with the plastic tote with the boy’s body.

Balboa’s next-door neighbor Tiffany Schultz, 25, has told police she heard loud scratches from the apartment a day after the boy is believed to have died.

Schultz, 25, along with her fiancé and newborn son had moved into their new apartment in Webster on May 11 – the day after next-door neighbor Balboa allegedly told her roommate that Samuel Olson, 5, had died, according to court documents.

‘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.’ 

Her fiancé, she said, started banging on the wall to make the noises stop.  

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

The map above shows the four locations associated with the search for missing Samuel Olson

The map above shows the four locations associated with the search for missing Samuel Olson

Samuel Olson would've been 6 on May 29

Samuel Olson

Olson’s body was found in a tote in a Texas motel on June 1, but police believe he died on May 10

Samuel’s parents had been involved in a bitter custody battle over the boy after filing for divorce in January 2020. 

His mother, Sarah Olson, had primary custody but she had not seen Samuel since summer 2020, her lawyer, Marco Gonzalez, told reporters this week. 

Gonzalez accused Dalton Olson of keeping Samuel from his mother and avoiding being served court paperwork that would have ordered him to return the boy to her. 

After reporting Samuel missing, Balboa initially accused Gonzalez and a man who presented himself as a police officer of taking the boy.  

Police had not been able to verify Balboa’s claim. 

Samuel had been living with Balboa since April 30, which was the last day he was seen at school. 

Authorities have not said why Samuel was staying with Balboa. Dalton lived at a different address.

It emerged on Wednesday night that Balboa previously lost custody over her two young daughters in 2019 over claims she was a bad mom.

Court records obtained by Click2Houston revealed that the girls – now aged six and eight – were removed from their mom’s care after she failed to show up to court for a custody hearing. 

Sarah Olson Samuel's birth mother is pictured with him

Samuel Olson

Sarah Olson Samuel’s birth mother is pictured with him left and Samuel is pictured right. Balboa is believed to have kept his body hidden for two weeks including in a bathtub in her apartment

Balboa previously lost custody over her two young daughters in 2019 over claims she was a bad mom

Balboa previously lost custody over her two young daughters in 2019 over claims she was a bad mom


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