Theresa Balboa, 29, is pictured in her new mugshot after arrived at Harris County jail on Friday to face charges in the death of Samuel Olson. Balboa’s neighbor says she heard scratching coming from next-door the evening after court documents say Olson may have died
The neighbor of a woman accused of killing her boyfriend’s five-year-old son says she heard scratches from the apartment a day after the boy is believed to have died.
Theresa Balboa, 29, was arrested last week in a motel room with the child’s decomposing body stuffed in a bin, court documents reveal.
Officials believe the boy had been dead since May 10.
Tiffany 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.
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.
It was late the next evening, when Schultz said she heard the eerie sounds.
‘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.’
By 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.
Balboa wouldn’t report the boy missing until May 27.
She is so far the only person arrested in connection with Samuel’s disappearance, and in a brief court appearance Monday a judge increased her bail for an earlier assault charge to $100,000 in addition to $500,000 for criminal tampering.
Balboa’s new neighbor Tiffany Schultz said the noises she heard next door were strange, but didn’t realize they could be related to the missing boy until weeks later. She said it was ‘creepy’
Balboa at this time is suspected of hiding Samuel’s corpse on May 13, two weeks before reporting the child missing
Tiffany Schultz says she moved in next door to Balboa at this Webster apartment complex on May 11, a day after Samuel is believed to have died
Samuel’s father, Dalton Olson (pictured with Balboa before the grim find) said the 5-year-old is his ‘whole world.’ He has not been named a suspect
It has also been revealed that Balboa lost custody of two of her own two young daughters in 2019
On Tuesday police discovered her with the bin, filled with what is believed to be the boy’s decomposing body, at a Best Western Motel in Jasper.
Court documents claim she was fleeing to Louisiana when she was arrested.
She was arrested for criminal tampering with more serious charges expected as medical examiners work to confirm whether the remains are Samuel’s.
‘My fiancé also saw a truck outside and is convinced he saw a bin in the back, which Samuel could have been in, it’s creepy,’ Schultz said.
She said she was aware of a missing boy around the time when she moved in, with police and media presence as well as crowds searching a field opposite their apartments.
‘We saw police and 4-wheelers, camera people out here, and they all started to come in here [in the community], right in front of our door,’ Schultz said.
The map above shows the four locations associated with the search for missing Samuel Olson
Police recovered the remains believed to be that of Samuel wrapped with duct tape and stuffed inside a black plastic bin in room 106 at this Best Western motel in Jasper, Texas on Tuesday
‘We looked it up and realized it was a young boy missing, then she [Balboa] was arrested. It’s all sad.’ she said. ‘It makes me really nervous thinking someone like that was living next door, you just never know.’
Balboa is currently being held on $500,000 bail after being deemed a flight risk Friday. Prosecutors allege that she had been attempting to flee to Louisiana with the body.
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
If Balboa is released on bond, she will be required to wear a GPS ankle
On Thursday, Samuel’s father Dalton Olson told KPRC2, ‘I don’t know what’s going on. I can barely breathe.
‘Why? He loved you so much. I do not understand what happened. Why did you, why did you do this?’
Samuel’s parents had been involved in a bitter custody battle 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.
Gonzalez said Samuel’s mother also blames Dalton for their son’s death and believes he should be charged. Houston police say Olson is not a person of interest but that more charges could be filed.
‘Her utmost priority is that justice is done for her baby Samuel,’ Gonzalez said. ‘She’s completely heartbroken.’
Samuel Veenstra, an attorney for Dalton Olson, said his client denies any wrongdoing.
‘He had nothing to do with the death of his son,’ said Veenstra. ‘[The] family is in mourning, shocked and in disbelief.’
Veenstra said he didn’t think Samuel had been living with Balboa. But when asked if the boy had been living with his father at the time he was reported missing, Veenstra said, ‘I don’t know how to answer your questions on this one OK.’
‘There’s nothing in place on the family case that says who Sam could or could not go around,’ Veenstra said.
When cops were first investigating Samuel’s disappearance, Balboa had claimed that the boy’s mother, and a person dressed as a police officer showed up and took the boy from the home.
Police, however, said they were unable to verify Balboa’s claim.
Authorities were led to Balboa after she reportedly called a friend on Monday, and asked him to pick her up at a Walmart parking lot in Cleveland, and the two drove nearly 70 miles south to retrieve the bin at the storage facility in Webster.
They then reportedly drove another 160 miles northeast to the Best Western.
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.
Sarah Olson, Samuel’s birth mother (pictured together, left), said through a lawyer that she had primary custody of the boy but had not seen him since the summer of 2020
Samuel was last seen alive by his paternal grandmother, Tonya Olson, who says she spent the weekend with him on May 8. His last verified sighting by someone outside of his family was on April 30 at his school.
Meanwhile, 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.
The father of Balboa’s children was also a no-show, and the children were given to a family member, who was appointed their guardian.
The woman told the station that Balboa was not taking good care of her daughters.
‘She wasn’t born to be a mom,’ the guardian said.
Shortly before the discovery of the child’s body and Balboa’s arrest, Tim Miller, the founder of the volunteer search group Texas Equusearch, was said to have confronted the woman about apparent inconsistencies in her story concerning Samuel’s disappearance.
‘I told her, I said, ‘I’m so damn disappointed in you,” Miller told KHOU11. ‘I said, ‘You know, every word you’re saying is a lie.’ And that’s when things started unravelling, I think.’