LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Cassie Smith and her fiance Joshua Oxford admitted to beating and pouring hot water on her son, 3-year-old Daniel Theriot, prior to his death, according to Smith's arrest report.
Smith had first contacted police on Sept. 2 to report her son missing from Sunset Park. She told police she lost track of him while she was on the phone, and hadn't seen him for 30 minutes.
After an extensive search involving Park Police, LVMPD Air Support, LVMPD Search and Rescue, Red Rock Rescue volunteers and a K-9 unit, investigators found Theriot in a "large, white fiberglass shell of an apparent appliance in a remote area of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area," according to Smith's arrest report.
In interviews with police, Smith and Oxford said they had been dating for a year or two, off and on. They had lived in Las Vegas for two to four weeks in a studio apartment with Smith's two young children. They both said Daniel "had a bad attitude and had been disrespectful' to them, the report noted.
Smith said Oxford "lost it" and spanked Daniel over and over again. After he didn't listen, he poured water on him. When that didn't work, he heated water on a stove and poured that on the boy, Smith said to police. He said 'ow' and Smith watched and did nothing.
Oxford's mother, Kathy Evans said she was a witness to some of the abuse.
(Daniel) was in trouble for something before (I got there). I don’t know what it was," she said. "He was standing in the corner when I got there."
"Daniel was standing up he wanted to lay down and Josh told him: ‘No, you’re being punished.’'
She said when Daniel laid down, Oxford hit him.
“He swatted him because he wouldn’t stand up.” “I told him, 'Just leave [Daniel] alone. Just let him lay there.'”
“I never saw any bruises on him. I never saw anything. I didn’t see bruises," she said.
Evans said she was not at the home when hot water was allegedly poured on Daniel.
Oxford said he had smacked Daniel in the head with an open hand several times that day. He and Smith left to run errands, while Oxford's mother watched the kids. When they returned, Daniel was 'asleep,' so they left him alone, the report said.
Smith said she found Daniel dead on the floor. She said Oxford put his body in a plastic tub, and they then drove out to a secluded desert area near Sunrise Mountain where Oxford dumped Daniel's body into a white box found out in the desert, according to the report.
Smith said she and Oxford made up the story about Daniel's disappearance "to avoid going to prison" and she went to Sunset Park to report him missing, the arrest report said.
Oxford said both he and Smith were to blame for Daniel's death.
The Clark County Coroner's Office said Daniel Theriot had several scrapes and bruises, blunt force injuries, broken ribs and a brain bleed. The victim's name was redacted from court records, but Daniel Theriot had previously been identified as the victim by family and the Clark County Coroner's Office.
"I don’t know how I feel. This is just such a shock. I can’t believe it happened," Evans said.
Both Smith and Oxford were arrested and charged with 1st degree murder.
“This is not an ordinary child abuse, neglect or endangerment type case,” Judge William Jansen said. “This is much more serious.”
“The autopsy of that child indicated ongoing abuse,” the prosecutor said. “There is evidence that was at the hands of both individuals charged in this case.”
During the search, police checked the couple's home and found Daniel’s younger brother under the supervision of Oxford. Child Protective Services stepped in and took the child to Sunrise Hospital. Medical staff reported signs of ongoing abuse.
Authorities said Daniel's 2-year-old brother was taken into Child Protective Services custody.