An overnight search for 3-year-old Daniel Theriot has ended after police discover his body near Lake Mead National Recreation Area. He was reported missing by his mother, Cassie Smith, who said he had wandered off in Sunset Park while she was focused on her phone. However, discovery of the body prompted police to arrest 20-year-old Cassie Smith and 40-year-old Joshua Oxford, her boyfriend.
Smith called 911 and reported Daniel missing Sunday morning. Later that day, Metro Police had doubts about the veracity of Smith’s story. Her home was closer to another park, Lorenzi, and instead they were at Sunset park, miles away. This prompted authorities to begin a second investigation into criminal activity, along with investigating the missing child.
While both have been arrested, murder charges have not been filed. The two are being held on charges of child abuse or neglect. These charges are preliminary until a full autopsy is completed, and the cause of death can be determined. Investigators commented on the boy’s condition when found, referring to it as “absolutely disturbing” and were convinced there was “nothing accidental” in regard to the boy’s death.
Reporters reached out to Crystal Kahles, Smith’s cousin. She said upon seeing information about Daniel’s disappearance online, she was skeptical at once. “Just immediately my gut instinct said ‘They did this, this was not an accident. They are covering something up,’” she stated.
According to Kahles, Daniel’s mother was not abusive with him or his younger brother Brandon. However, she did claim that Smith was neglectful. Her report to police claims that apparent abuse began when Smith became involved with Oxford. “It’s when Josh started coming around that’s when the signs of abuse started, the bruises and everything, [the boys] acting out more.” According to Metro police, Brandon also showed evidence of abuse; he was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Smith had recently relocated to Las Vegas, previously living at the Texas home of Kahles’ mother. Kahles claimed to have visited and cleaned for Smith often, while voicing concerns about the cleanliness of the boy’s environment. She said she told Smith, “Hey, you need to clean the boys after they eat. You have roaches in this house, they can’t live like this.”
Daniel’s father, James Theriot, currently lives in Texas and is in shock over the death of one of his sons. He expects to travel to Las Vegas as soon as possible. He and his family are concerned with finding out more about Daniel’s disappearance and death, as well as to offer care for Brandon.