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2nd person charged in connection with Texas boy’s death

June 22, 2021 GMT

HOUSTON (AP) — A second person has been charged in connection with the death of a 5-year-old Houston boy whose body was allegedly kept hidden in a storage unit before being discovered in an East Texas motel, authorities said Tuesday.

Benjamin Rivera, 27, has been charged by Houston police with tampering with evidence, a human corpse, according to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Rivera is the roommate of Theresa Raye Balboa, who was charged earlier this month in the case.

Court records did not list an attorney who could speak on Rivera’s behalf.

Balboa, who was the girlfriend of Samuel’s father, has also been charged with tampering with evidence, a human corpse.

Samuel’s body was found June 1 inside a plastic tote in a motel in Jasper, about 135 miles (215 kilometers) northeast of Houston. Prosecutors have said Balboa was on her way to Louisiana.

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Police believe Samuel died weeks before he was reported missing on May 27 by Balboa, according to an arrest affidavit. He would have turned 6 on May 29.

Rivera told investigators Balboa called him May 10 and said the boy was dead, according to the affidavit. The boy’s body was kept in the bathtub of the suburban Houston apartment where Balboa lived until she and Rivera placed it in a plastic tote and hid it in a storage unit on May 13, police said.

A tip from a friend of Balboa led police to the motel room in Jasper.

Samuel’s cause of death has been ruled a homicide but additional details of how he died have not been released by authorities.

Balboa, 29, remains jailed on bonds totaling $600,000.

Prosecutors have said they plan to file additional charges against Balboa.