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Terry Smith Jr., 11, Found Dead

menifee-boyA 16-year-old family member was arrested on suspicion of murder after remains matching the description of a missing Menifee boy were found.

Terry Smith, 11, was last in the care of that family member  on the evening of Saturday, July 6.

His disappearance set off an extensive days-long search involving both law enforcement personnel and as many as 1,000 volunteers.

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A Menifee teen accused of killing his 11-year-old half brother — whose July disappearance generated a massive search effort — appeared in court in Riverside County Tuesday.

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A Menifee teen appears in juvenile court in Murrieta on Sept. 17, 2013 on a charge of murder in the death of his 11-year-old half brother, Terry Smith Jr., top right. KTLA has blurred the suspect’s face because he is a minor.

The 16-year-old, who is not being named by KTLA because he is a minor and has been charged as such, faces one count of murder in the death of Terry Smith Jr., whose body was found buried in the backyard of the home the two half brothers shared with their mother and her partner.

The teen’s initial court appearance in July saw his juvenile detention hearing postponed to Tuesday, when it was again postponed to Oct. 23. With close-cropped hair and wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit, the teen appeared in the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.

Smith was first reported missing on July 7 and was the subject of a four-day search that brought hundreds of volunteers and officials to the desert town of Menifee, about miles 80 southeast of Los Angeles.

Smith’s body was found partially buried in a shallow grave under a tree in the backyard of the family home on July 10. An Orange County woman who said she had visions of the boy led authorities to the remains, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department officials confirmed.

Though the half brother is being charged as a juvenile, his hearing is open to the public because the teen is charged with murder. A judge, however, may in future decide to cut off proceedings to the media and public, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

MENIFEE, Calif. (KTLA) — A public memorial was held Thursday for Terry Smith, the 11-year-old Menifee boy whose body was discovered in a shallow grave after a days-long search effort.

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Terry Smith Sr. thanks search volunteers at memorial for slain son.

The service at Lamb’s Fellowship Church was organized by boy’s father, Terry Smith Sr., as a way to personally thank the volunteers who helped in the search.

“I want to thank each and every last one of you,” Smith said.  “You will never be forgotten.”

The boy’s remains were found buried near the family’s home four days after his mother reported him missing.
It was a heartbreaking end for those who tried so hard to find young Terry.
“I was searching until 11 at night and when I found out the next day, it was so hard to accept,” Adrianna Duran said.  “I didn’t want him to be gone. He was such a good little boy.”

The elder Smith , who lives in West Virginia, sold his car to buy a plane ticket to California to bring his son home to be buried.

An email account, Luvmy4boys23@gmail.com, has been set for anyone wishing to help.

MENIFEE, Calif. (KTLA) — A public memorial service was scheduled Thursday for Terry Smith, the 11-year-old Menifee boy whose body was discovered in a shallow grave after a days-long search effort.

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Search volunteers attend a candlelight vigil for Terry Smith. (Los Angeles Times)

The boy’s remains were found buried near the family’s home four days after his mother reported him missing.

On Wednesday, Smith’s father held a new conference to thank the volunteers who helped search for his son.

Smith, who lives in West Virginia, has extended his visit to Menifee.

He was waiting for authorities to release the boy’s body for cremation.

“Maybe by the middle of next week his body will be released, that way I’ll be able to take at least half of him home,” Terry Smith Sr. said.

The boy’s 16-year-old half brother, Skylor Atilano, was facing murder charges in the case.

But Smith said he did not believe that the teenager acted alone.

“I don’t think that Terry Jr. ended up under that tree just by Skylor,” Smith said.

The memorial service was set to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Lamb’s Fellowship Church, 21901 Railroad Canyon Road, in Lake Elsinore.

A judge said Monday that a 16-year-old boy charged with murdering his 11-year-old half brother in Riverside County had a history of violent outbursts and postponed a hearing until September at the request of defense attorneys.

Riverside County district attorney spokesman John Hall said the juvenile court judge referred to the alleged history of “violent outbursts” at the hearing for the brother of Terry Smith, whose remains were found last week in a shallow grave

Hall said he could not elaborate on the outbursts.

The detention hearing to decide whether the suspect will remain in custody was postponed until Sept. 17 to allow defense attorneys time to review evidence in the case.

Click here to read more on LATimes.com.

Vigil Held for Murdered Menifee Boy Terry Smith

MENIFEE, Calif. (KTLA) — A 16-year-old family member accused in the death of a Menifee boy was charged with murder Friday, authorities said.

Skylor Atilano, of Menifee, was scheduled to have a juvenile detention hearing on Monday in connection with the death of his 11-year-old half-brother, Terry Smith Jr., according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

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Crime scene in Menifee (credit: Los Angeles Times)

The DA’s Office also requested a hearing to determine whether the case should be handled in juvenile court or in adult court.

Coroner’s officials Friday were expected to determine whether human remains found near the family home belonged to Terry.

Terry, who was reported to have had autism, went missing on Saturday night from his home in the 38000 block of Helen Lane.

His disappearance set off a days-long search involving law enforcement personnel and as many as 1,000 volunteers.

Authorities called off their search on Wednesday morning after remains were discovered matching the boy’s description.

A psychic and a Los Angeles County firefighter tipped off authorities to the body, which was buried in a shallow grave on the family’s property, police said.

Authorities interviewed family members and arrested a 16-year-old on suspicion of murder, according to Riverside County Sheriff’s Capt. John Hill.

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Terry Dewayne Smith, 11

Terry had been living with his mother, Shawnee Smith; her partner; a 13-year-old girl; and Atilano, according to neighbors.

Atilano was reportedly the last person to see Terry on Saturday evening, when he was babysitting.

He told police that he was walking to the corner market when he noticed Terry was following him.

He said that he shouted at Terry to turn around and go home, but he never saw the boy again, investigators said.

Anyone with information was asked to call Menifee police at (951) 210-1000 or Riverside County sheriff’s dispatch at (951) 776-1099.

MENIFEE, Calif. (KTLA) — Police continued their investigation on Thursday into the death of a Menifee boy, a day after a teenage family member was arrested on suspicion of murder.

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Terry Dewayne Smith, 11

Detectives received a tip around 1 a.m. on Wednesday alerting them to possible remains in the 38000 block of Helen Lane, police said.

“Officers on arrival located a partial grave containing partially exposed human remains,” said Riverside County Sheriff’s Capt. John Hill.

The remains had yet to be identified, authorities said.

However, police confirmed on Wednesday the discovery of a body that fit the description of 11-year-old Terry Smith, Hill said.

Authorities called off the days-long search for Terry and interviewed the boy’s family.

“As a result of those interviews, a 16-year-old family member was arrested for murder,” Hill said.

The teenager was not identified.

Terry had been living with his mother, Shawnee Smith, her partner, a 13-year-old girl and a 16-year-old half-brother, according to neighbors.

That half-brother was reportedly the last person to see Terry on Saturday evening, when he was babysitting.

He told police that he was walking to the corner market when he noticed Terry was following him.

He said he shouted at Terry to turn around and go home, but he never saw the boy again, police said.

The manager of the market told KTLA that the 16-year-old brother never came into the store on Saturday night.

“He wasn’t at the market. We had checked our surveillance, our cameras, all the video… nothing,” the woman, who did not want to be identified, said.

Terry was not in his room on Sunday morning, according to his family. Police were called to the family home around 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Terry, who answered to the nickname “Juju,” was autistic but highly functioning, according to his family.

His disappearance set off an extensive search involving law enforcement personnel and hundreds of volunteers.

Their efforts were coordinated in large part via social media, including a “Find Terry Smith” Facebook page.

Many of the volunteers gathered outside the family home on Thursday night for a prayer vigil. They lit candles and released balloons in tribute to Terry.

Terry’s mother was questioned for several hours and then released, according to investigators. No one else has been charged in connection with the case.

The Smith family released a statement thanking the community for their support. They asked to be given privacy and time to heal.

Anyone with information was asked to call Menifee police at (951) 210-1000 or Riverside County sheriff’s dispatch at (951) 776-1099.

MENIFEE, Calif. (KTLA) — The search continued in Menifee on Tuesday for an 11-year-old boy with autism, three days after he was reported missing, authorities said.

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Terry Dewayne Smith, 11

Terry Dewayne Smith, nicknamed “Juju,” was last seen on Saturday night at his home in the 33000 block of Helen Lane.

His stepbrother said he saw Smith playing video games before he went to bed, detectives said.

Smith was not in his room when family members went to check on him on Sunday morning.

Menifee police were called to the residence around 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Volunteers have joined law enforcement officers to search the area around the home.

A sheriff’s helicopter and a bloodhound were also brought in to help with the search, but without any success.

Smith was described as 4 feet 8 inches tall and 78 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing blue shorts.

Smith is also in need of medication, according to family members.

Anyone with information was asked to contact Menifee police at (951) 210-1000 or Riverside County sheriff’s dispatch at (951) 776-1099.

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