'He didn't deserve any of that:' Father of San Jose boy whose body was found in Vegas honors son

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The father of Liam Husted, 7, the boy from San Jose whose body was found by hikers on a Southern Nevada trail, spoke at his son's vigil on Thursday.

"Look how many people love you," Nicholas Husted said, as if he were talking to little Liam.

RELATED: San Jose mother arrested after 7-year-old son found dead along Las Vegas hiking trail

In front of a crowd of family and friends, Husted described Liam as a little boy with a big smile, who loved La Colina Park in San Jose.

"This was his second home," Husted said.

"Every time... every day...here," Liam's godfather, Michael Velasco added. "This is the park that he'd want to go."

"That hill right there, he'd beat me up there," Husted continued.

Now, the uphill battle to make any sense of what happened to his son.

VIDEO: San Jose man details encounter with 'crying' boy before 7-year-old was found dead in Las Vegas
EMBED More News Videos

A South Bay man believes he had an encounter with 7-year-old son Liam Husted shortly before he was reported missing and ultimately found dead along a Las Vegas trail.

Liam's body was found on a trailhead outside Las Vegas on May 28. He was formally identified earlier this week, after investigators got a tip from a family friend who recognized a sketch of the child and called police.

"He didn't deserve any of this," Husted told reporters on Thursday. "And that's the hardest part, is knowing that I wasn't there to protect him."

Through a nationwide search, the FBI found and arrested Liam's mother, Samantha Moreno Rodriguez, 35, on Tuesday morning in Denver, Colorado.

"He did not deserve any of that," Husted said through tears. "And that's what I wanted him to know... That he was a good boy and he didn't do anything wrong."

"And daddy loves him so much," he shared.

Husted said he last saw Liam on the May 23, the night before going to work.

RELATED: FBI, Vegas police offer $10K for information about slain boy after body found along trail

"Normally, I would sleep with him and Sunday, I didn't. Normally I'm in bed, holding his hand, and I didn't. These are the types of things that I'll never get back," he said.

However, Husted is taking with him the memories. He called Liam smart, energetic and mischievous.

"He was amazing," he added, after taking a moment to reflect.

Husted won't soon forget the moments made at La Colina Park either- his son's favorite place, Liam's "second home."

"I just look in every direction and I see him," Husted said. "It's nice to be here with him."

Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.