Timeline: What happened to Samuel Olson? Cops trying to figure out how boy ended up dead in Texas motel

Houston police took his father's girlfriend, Theresa Balboa, into custody at the motel and charged her with tampering with evidence


                            Timeline: What happened to Samuel Olson? Cops trying to figure out how boy ended up dead in Texas motel
Theresa Balboa (L) was found with the body of Samuel Olson in a motel (Houston Police)

JASPER, TEXAS: Six-year-old Samuel Olson was reported missing five days before his body was found in a Jasper motel room. Houston police took his father's girlfriend, Theresa Balboa, into custody at the motel and charged her with tampering with evidence. It's worth noting that Balboa was the one who reported Samuel missing, but authorities say there were holes in her story from the beginning.

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Here's a timeline of the heartbreaking case

April 30

This was reportedly the last day Samuel, then 5, attended school at Holbrook Elementary in Cy-Fair ISD. Authorities believe this was also the last time anyone outside of the family saw the blue-eyed, curly-haired child. Speaking to KHOU 11, Samuel's paternal grandmother Tanya Olson said she last saw the boy in the first week of May and last spoke with him over the phone a week before his disappearance.



 

May 27

At approximately 6 pm on May 27, Houston police received a call reporting that Samuel was missing from southwest Houston. When officers arrived at the address in 8800 block of McAvoy Drive, Samuel's father Dalton Olson, and his girlfriend Theresa Balboa, were present at the scene. 29-year-old Balboa told police that Samuel's biological mother and a man "dressed as a police officer" picked up the kid that morning around 7 am. The "officer" allegedly told Balboa she would be charged with kidnapping if she didn't turn Samuel over.

But when authorities confronted Samuel's mother Sarah Olson, she had a strong alibi.

May 28

Multiple family members were questioned. HPD Asst Chief Heather Miller said there were “several inconsistencies” in Balboa’s story and homicide detectives were brought in to solve the case.

May 29

When Houston police put out an alert about missing Samuel Olson to the media, they did not mention Balboa's claims about him being taken by his mother and a "police officer."



 

May 30

Samuel Olson turned six years old on May 30, 2021. His mother Sarah left a birthday cake, some balloons, and candles next to a flyer with his photo and details. “I love you, Samuel. I pray you’re ok. I love you, my baby. Happy bday,” the devastated mother posted on Facebook.



 

May 31

Authorities took the search for Samuel up a notch. Texas EquuSearch volunteers searched an area "near the Gulf Freeway and Dixie Farm Road, not far from Ellington Field," per KHOU 11. "I sure as hell don’t think this is going to have a happy ending,” Equusearch founder Tim Miller told the outlet at the time. Police searched the Gateway at Ellington apartment complex after reports that it was the last known location Samuel was seen at. It later emerged that Balboa lived at the complex with an unnamed male and that authorities were searching her apartment. In the process, they also impounded her 2012 Dodge Avenger.

"We are trying to move with as much urgency as we can," Larry Saddlewhite, with HPD, said. "We're still not where we need to be in terms of locating him."

Balboa was arrested last November and charged with assaulting Dalton by "impeding breathing," per court records. At the time, Dalton got a protective order and Balboa wasn’t supposed to go near him or his family members. However, they got back together at some point, per KHOU 11.

June 1

Samuel's grandmother Tanya Olson revealed on June 1 that the family had lost contact with Balboa. “Just bring Sam home. Just bring Sam home,” Olson told KHOU 11. “This can’t go on anymore. We need to know where he is. Where he is and that he’s safe and that he’s good. And that way he can have a birthday party.”

Jasper authorities received a Crime Stoppers tip about Balboa's whereabouts shortly after, leading them to the Best Western Inn on West Gibson Street in Jasper. Officers questioned Balboa at the motel before finding the body of a child in a tote bag in room 106. Balboa was taken into custody and Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said they believed the victim found was Samuel Olson, 6.



 

June 2

HPD Assistant Chief Heather Miller confirmed at a press conference that the body was, in fact, Samuel's, but said they were waiting for the medical examiner to make a positive identification. “This is an absolutely tragic event, and our prayers go out to the family," Miller said.

Balboa is charged with tampering with evidence and remanded in custody at the Jasper County Jail. Miller said homicide detectives have to interrogate several other people about the disappearance, including the boy's biological father. Authorities are trying to establish a motive and are currently scouring surveillance video from the motel, hoping to get some answers.

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