LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A Las Vegas mother reported her little boy missing on Sunday, sparking a nine-hour search for the toddler. Cassie Smith, 20, told police she was with her son when he disappeared at Sunset Park.
On Monday morning, investigators revealed they found the body of Daniel Theriot in a remote area near Lake Mead.
Smith and her 40-year-old boyfriend Josh Oxford have been charged with child abuse. Murder charges are pending an autopsy.
FOX5 spoke exclusively with Smith’s cousin, Crystal Kahles.
“I said that boy is not missing, he's gone and they did it,” Kahles said. “This was arranged.”
Kahles saw headlines on social media and recognized the boy in the pictures as 3-year-old Daniel Theriot, her cousin’s son.
“Just immediately my gut instinct said ‘They did this, this was not an accident. They are covering something up,’” she said.
Kahles called Metro police and filed a report.
“Cassie wasn't abusive with the boys, she was neglectful,” Kahles said.
She told investigators everything she knew about her cousin and Cassie’s boyfriend, Josh Oxford.
“It’s when Josh started coming around that's when the signs of abuse started, the bruises and everything, them acting out more,” she said.
Kahles said Cassie moved to Vegas last month. Before that, she lived with Kahles’ mother in Texas, where Kahles saw firsthand how Cassie treated her two children.
Kahles said she and other family members tried to help.
“Every time I would come to town to visit my mom, I would just have to deep clean that house and tell her, ‘Hey, you need to clean the boys after they eat. You have roaches in this house, they can't live like this. There's roaches living in their beds, there's roaches in her bed. It was absolute filth and disgusting,” she said.
When Cassie moved to Vegas, she cut off all contact with her family. Kahles said the next time she saw or heard anything about Cassie and Daniel, it was in the news.
“She just wasn’t deserving of those kids,” Kahles said. “They were so full of love and energy and laughter. And they were just innocent little babies. Daniel, he didn't deserve this. He deserved a mother who was going to protect him.”
Kahles said Cassie’s two-year-old son Brandon is in the hospital. Metro police confirmed he was also abused.
FOX5 also spoke by phone with Daniel’s biological father, James Theriot, who also lives in Texas. He said investigators called and notified him on Sunday, first that his son was missing, then that they had found Daniel’s body.
He said he has no words for what happened, just anger. Theriot said he was planning to come out to Vegas to visit his son, later this month.
Both sides of the family said they are trying to come out to Vegas to bring Daniel back to Texas for a proper funeral and to take care of Cassie’s two-year-old son Brandon.
Metro police confirmed Brandon was also abused. He was taken to the hospital to be treated.