Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2018

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Police: Mom stood by while toddler, later found dead, was doused with hot water

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Cassie Smith

Continuous spanking did not make 3-year-old Daniel Theriot “listen” to his mother’s fiance. Neither did pouring water on his little body.

So Joshua Oxford again grabbed water, this time heating it before he let it flow on Daniel, which made the boy scream and call out for his mother, who was watching.

But Cassie Smith did nothing.

This is the account Smith, 20, gave to Metro Police investigators after Daniel’s body was found early Sept. 3 in a remote desert area within Lake Mead National Recreation Area, according to police.

The previous day, Smith had reported her son missing at Sunset Park, where she’d said they’d gone to feed ducks, police said. Her story, marred with inconsistencies, unraveled within the first few hours. Still, the report prompted a large search-and-rescue operation.

But Smith and Oxford knew Daniel was dead, his body discarded by them.

An autopsy found cuts and bruises and "multiple blunt force injuries" on Daniel's body, police said. He also had head injuries and rib fractures.

In the arrest report, Oxford and his mother, who also was present when the alleged fatal beating took place, did not mention anything about hot water.

Less than a month before Daniel died, Smith and Oxford — who’d been dating for about a year — packed up and moved to Las Vegas, along with Daniel and his slightly younger brother, who Metro also alleges was abused by the couple.

On Sept. 1, Daniel, who Smith and Oxford said had a “bad attitude and (was) being disrespectful” to them, was being punished by the man, Smith said.

According to Smith, “Joshua lost it.” The 40-year-old spanked the boy “over and over” again, police said.

The hot water got a reaction from Daniel, but not from Smith, who did nothing to stop Oxford, police said.

Oxford’s mother also was at the home and had told Oxford to stop, police said. The couple left and Kathy Evans stayed to watch the boys, according to the report.

Evans detailed what happened next.

The couple came back and Oxford became angry she’d let Daniel lie down. “He was tired and Josh needed to leave him alone,” the woman told her son, according to the report.

But Oxford yanked the boy’s arm and made him stand while the beating continued, according to the report. Daniel went to sleep for the last time and was found lying on the floor the next morning.

Smith contemplated calling police, she said, “but Joshua said they would both go to prison if she did,” according to the report.

They carried his damaged body to a pickup truck and drove to a secluded area, where they left it, police said.

Then they returned home and concocted a story about a 3-year-old boy who’d vanished while feeding ducks with his mother.