THERESA Balboa's neighbors heard 'loud scratching through the wall at 3am' – days before her stepson Samuel Olson's body was thought to have been discovered.
The 29-year-old, who is currently behind bars in Harris County jail in Texas, has been charged with evidence tampering, with further charges expected in coming days.
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Balboa was previously living with pal Benjamin Rivera, who told cops she phoned him to tell him Samuel, 5, was dead, and begged for help in hiding his body.
In court documents, he claims they put him in a bathtub at the apartment in Webster, where he remained for two days, before being transported to a storage unit nearby in a plastic bin.
Neighbor Tiffany Schultz, who lives next door with fiance Andrew and their newborn baby girl, moved in on May 11, the day after Samuel is believed to have died.
While his body was thought to have been slumped in the bathtub just metres away next door, Tiffany and her family were moving boxes into their home, ready to start a new chapter.
She recalled chilling details of bizarre noises heard from the apartment two days after Samuel was allegedly killed.
"My fiance saw them one time [Balboa and Rivera], but they never spoke," she exclusively told The Sun.
"The second day we were here, it was probably about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, we heard loud scratching noises, really, really loud.
"It lasted for a good ten or fifteen minutes, I was like, 'Baby, I'm scared.' He [her fiance] was like, 'It's okay'.
"He started banging on the wall to try and make it go away.
"I've heard loud scratching from animals before and it wasn't that, I don't believe they had animals.
"We didn't hear any other noises, it was strange.
"My fiance also saw a truck outside and is convinced he saw a bin in the back, which Samuel could have been in, it's creepy."
Tiffany, 25, said she was aware a little boy was missing when they moved in as there was a lot of commotion around the home – with crowds searching in the field opposite.
"We saw police and 4wheelers, camera people out here, and they all started to come in here [in the community], right in front of our door," she said.
"We looked it up and realized it was a young boy missing, then she [Balboa] was arrested. It's all sad.
"It makes me really nervous thinking someone like that was living next door, you just never know.
"I think she deserves to go to jail for a long time and think about what she did."
Balboa's roommate Rivera said he raced out of work after she called him and returned home to find Samuel laying on the bed unresponsive, according to court documents.
He told police he noticed bruising on the child's body, according to prosecutors.
Then on May 13, he claims he bought duct tape and a plastic tote from Walmart and that he and Balboa wrapped Samuel's body in a plastic sheet, placed it into a tote bag, and put the body on the back of his truck.
They then drove to a storage unit in Webster, court documents say.
Police busted her at a Best Western Motel on June 1 in Jasper after a pal claimed he drove her there with a "foul-smelling bin" and later tipped off CrimeStoppers.
She had initially told cops weeks before that she had given Samuel back to his biological mother, Sarah Olson, when she showed up at her home with a man she believed to be a police officer.
Balboa said she last saw Samuel in the 8800 block of McAvoy Drive in Houston, Texas, telling KTRK: "I was going to take Sam to school when his mother showed up with the police officer…or who I was under the impression to be a police officer, and they demanded me to release Sam."
She continued that she had to hand over the child because she has no legal rights to him.
Houston Police Department Executive Assistant Larry Satterwhite confirmed that cops have not verified the version of events Balboa provided.
The boy's biological mother denied the claims and gave police a solid alibi of her whereabouts, saying she hadn't seen her son in weeks.
"I saw her [Balboa] on some news channel saying she had no chance when the mother came, she lied just like it was nothing," neighbor Tiffany told The Sun.
"And hugging Dalton the dad like everything would be okay, knowing what she did, it's crazy.
"Why not just call the cops to begin with, I don't understand."
Almost paralyzed by grief, Samuel's heartbroken grandmother Tonya, who has been comforting her son Dalton Olson, the boy's father, said the family is "extremely distraught."
She told The Sun: "Nobody should have to imagine this.
"We've been staying off social media, and we don't even watch the updates, it's sickening. And then you have to hear the details."
Samuel's devastated mother, Sarah Olson, suggested the boy's father was involved in his disappearance – as the child's remains are yet to be identified – but he has vehemently denied the claims.
Tonya, 48, said: "People are mean, they don't even know what's going on, there's more to this.
"We're respecting the detectives working on this, we've given them anything and everything every time they've asked us."
Anguished family members sat huddled in a large out building next to Tonya's home as she wiped away tears and spoke of her grief, adding: "Justice will be done."
Cops say they found a child's body – yet to be confirmed – inside a plastic container in the hotel room, with Balboa hiding in the bathroom.
After removing the lid of the bin, officers found a small body stuffed inside a black plastic bag that had been secured with duct tape.
The Sun earlier revealed she was allegedly planning to move the boy's body to another state when she was arrested by police.
In a motion of bail obtained, prosecutors cited Balboa to be a flight risk alleging that she was "on her way to Louisiana with [Samuel's] body" when she was apprehended.
The state of Texas then requested the court to set Balboa's bond at $500,000, which was later approved.
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