Samuel Olson case update: Woman pleads guilty, sentenced to 52 years in prison for murder of 5-year-old boy in 2021

Theresa Balboa will serve 52 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 26 years

HOUSTON – The woman charged with capital murder in connection with the death of a 5-year-old Webster boy in 2021 took a plea deal during a court session on Wednesday.

Theresa Raye Balboa, 31, who stood alongside her attorney in the courtroom, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of 5-year-old Samuel Olson.

As punishment, she will serve 52 years in prison and must serve 26 of those years before becoming eligible for parole. Because she pleaded guilty, she cannot appeal the conviction or the prison sentence.

The boy’s mother, Sarah Olson, took the stand and provided an impact statement during court, saying her punishment “is not justice.”

“She admitted to what she did,” she said. “For 52 years with a chance of parole after 26 son didn’t get six years of life, but she gets a chance at one?”

She added that Balboa, “not only took Samuel’s life, but also mine.”

“This woman robbed the world of a little boy with a big smile and bright future, and there is no prison sentence long enough for someone like her,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “We have now guaranteed that she has been held accountable, will serve decades in prison and can never appeal her sentence, and that is, in small measure, justice.”

Andy Kahan, director of Victim Services and Advocacy for CrimeStoppers, told KPRC 2 that the plea deal was “the best of all possible scenarios.”

“The bottom line is that Theresa Balboa, who was originally out on a felony PR bond for assault, will now have to serve a minimum of 26 years in prison before she’s eligible for parole,” he said. “In 26 years, we will be there to make sure she does not breathe free air,” he said.

Balboa was originally expected to go on trial on Aug. 7 for capital murder.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Janna Oswald, a chief in the DA’s Crimes Against Children Division, and ADA Brett Batchelor, a chief in the Trial Bureau.

What happened?

Balboa admitted to killing Samuel Olson by hitting him with a blunt object while he was under her care on May 12, 2021, the district attorney’s office said. The boy’s parents were separated, and Balboa, who was dating the child’s father, was watching him at her apartment in Webster.

After reporting the child missing, Balboa took his body to a storage unit 10 days after his murder. Nine days later, she put the boy’s remains in a plastic bin and took the bin to a hotel in Jasper. She was found and arrested in Jasper the next day by the Houston Police Department and the Texas Rangers, Ogg said.

READ MORE: TIMELINE: Samuel Olson case

Balboa was initially charged with tampering with evidence. Her bond was set to $600,000.

Her roommate, Benjamin Rivera, was also charged with tampering with evidence.

The identity of Samuel Olson was confirmed following an autopsy conducted by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston.

Balboa’s charges were later upgraded to capital murder.


About the Authors:

A graduate of the University of Houston-Downtown, Ana moved to H-Town from sunny southern California in 2015. In 2020, she joined the KPRC 2 digital team as an intern. Ana is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, a catmom of 3, and an aquarium enthusiast. In her spare time, she's an avid video gamer and loves to travel.

Emmy-winning journalist. Inquisitive. Sparkle enthusiast. Coffee-fueled, with a dash of sass.