Police: Homicide victim misidentified; 8-year-old found safe

May 29, 2021, 4:25 PM | Updated: 11:45 pm
This image provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows a sketch of boy described...

This image provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows a sketch of boy described as a Hispanic 10-year-old, standing 4 feet 11 inches and weighing 123 pounds. Las Vegas police say a mother and metro Las Vegas authorities misidentified an 8-year-old boy as a young homicide victim and that the boy, an older half-brother and their father were all found safe in Utah. Police homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said the homicide victim, whose body was found Friday, May 28, 2021 near a southern Nevada trailhead, remained unidentified, and the investigation into his death continued. Spencer announced the incorrect identification during a news conference late Saturday outside police headquarters. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP)

(Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A mother and metro Las Vegas authorities misidentified an 8-year-old boy as a young homicide victim, police said Saturday after the boy, an older half-brother and their father were all found safe in Utah.

The homicide victim, whose body was found Friday near a southern Nevada trailhead, remained unidentified, and the investigation into his death continued, homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told reporters during a late afternoon news conference outside police headquarters.

During a Saturday morning news conference, Spencer had announced that the 8-year-old boy’s “panicked mother” contacted police early that morning to say she had seen news coverage of the homicide and believed the victim was her son, who had been picked up at his home by his father Thursday night.

The homicide victim was identified as the 8-year-old boy, whose name was not released, by the mother and another relative, and the mother of the half-brother told police she also believed the 8-year-old was the the boy in a sketch made from a photo of the homicide victim, Spencer said during the afternoon news conference.

The mother of the 8-year-old “positively identified that child as being her son …” Spencer said, adding that she signed an identification affidavit. “There is a very, very close resemblance when you look at those photos, the autopsy photos, and the 8-year-old child.”

Because the 11-year-old half-brother’s location and well-being were unknown, police announced they were looking for him and the boys’ father, 37-year-old Jose Montes-Herrera, Spencer said.

“We are going to do everything we can when the safety of a child is involved. That is exactly what we did,” Spencer said.

But it turned out that Montes-Herrera was with both boys in central Utah in an unspecified area without cellphone coverage, and the father was found with the help of Utah authorities, Spencer said.

That produced confirmation the 8-year-old boy was alive and safe, Spencer said.

“We are still in the situation right now where we have not identified the child that was found out in Mountain Springs yesterday morning,” Spencer said, referring to the area where the boy was found near a trailhead along State Route 160 between Las Vegas and Pahrump.

“We are still scouring hundreds of tips that we are receiving and we are continuing to work around the clock,” he said.

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Police: Homicide victim misidentified; 8-year-old found safe