A cousin of the Las Vegas mom charged after her 3-year-old son’s body was found in a park Monday said the woman allegedly took poor care of her two children, making them live in “filth” and sleep alongside roaches.
“She just wasn’t deserving of those kids,” Crystal Kahles told local TV station KVVU of Cassie Smith.
Smith and her boyfriend, Josh Oxford, 40, were arrested Monday after the body of her son, Daniel Theriot, was found in a Las Vegas park a day after Smith reported him missing. Both face one count of child abuse, a Las Vegas police spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
Said Kahles, “They were so full of love and energy and laughter. And they were just innocent little babies. Daniel, he didn’t deserve this. He deserved a mother who was going to protect him.”
When Daniel’s body was found Monday, Las Vegas Metro Police Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told reporters he wouldn’t reveal how the boy died but said “there was nothing accidental about it.”
Spencer said Smith told police she had been in Sunset Park with her son and was using her phone when the boy wandered off. But no other witnesses could corroborate seeing Smith and her son together at the park.
Kahles told KVVU that before Smith moved to Las Vegas last month to be with her boyfriend, she lived with Kahles’ mother in Texas and cared for her. During this time, Kahles worried about her mother and Smith’s two sons.
“Every time I would come to town to visit my mom, I would just have to deep clean that house and tell [Smith], ‘Hey, you need to clean the boys after they eat. You have roaches in this house, they can’t live like this,’ ” she recalled. “There’s roaches living in their beds, there’s roaches in her bed. It was absolute filth and disgusting.”
Kahles said she doesn’t believe her cousin physically abused Daniel or his sibling, but she thinks Smith neglected them.
Daniel’s biological father, who lives in Texas, told the station he learned of his son’s death Sunday and was planning to visit his son this month.
Lt. Spencer said that authorities believe Daniel may have been dead at least 12 hours before he was reported missing.
He said the parents have a criminal history but had not previously been investigated by child welfare workers.
“Having children is stressful,” he said. “Having toddlers is stressful. Having babies is stressful.”
“If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot care for your child, you can take your child to a fire station, you can take your child to a hospital, but this is absolutely — this is hard to deal with,” he said.
It is unclear whether Smith or Oxford have retained attorneys who could comment on their behalf.