Terry Dewayne Smith Jr., 11, an autistic boy, went missing from his Menifee, Calif., home on July 6.(Photo: Courtesy Riverside County Sheriff's Department)
By Kate McGinty, The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun
MENIFEE, Calif. -- The 16-year-old brother of an 11-year-old autistic boy who disappeared over the weekend from his Southern California home was arrested Wednesday on a murder charge, police said.
During a news conference Wednesday, Capt. John Hill said the body
of a boy who fits the description of 11-year-old Terry Smith was found
overnight in a "shallow grave containing partially exposed human
Investigators were still working to confirm the identity of the remains found Wednesday afternoon.
John Hall, a spokesman the Riverside County District Attorney, has not returned phone or e-mail messages from The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun.
teen, whose name was not released, was the last one to see Terry near
his Menifee, Calif., home Saturday, the Riverside County Sheriff's
Department previously said.
"The brother was walking away from
their residence, turns back, sees that Terry's following him and tells
Terry, 'Hey, go home,'" Deputy Albert Martinez told The Desert Sun this week.
half-bother - who has the same mom as Terry - has been "questioned
several times by investigators," Martinez said Tuesday afternoon.
"He's been cooperative throughout the whole time," the deputy said.
Earlier Wednesday, investigators halted their search and returned to Terry's home to search for human remains at about 1:30 a.m.
It was the fourth day of a widespread search for the boy, who
was identified by police as an autistic boy who was last seen Saturday.
found "possible human remains" in the dirt not far from the house, and a
search warrant was issued at the house late Wednesday morning, said
Sgt. Lisa McConnell.
Investigators initially said that Terry
"was discovered missing from his residence" sometime between 7:30 p.m.
Saturday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
lived on a short stretch of road in a rural area of Menifee, a city of
about 80,000 in southwestern Riverside County, Calif., which is about 80
miles southeast of Los Angeles.
They were "able to verify" Monday that Terry was last seen between 7:30 and 9 p.m. Saturday outside his home, McConnell said.
the search went on and temperatures peaked above 100 degrees each day,
more than 1,000 law enforcement, search and rescue personnel and
volunteers flooded into the city to help search.
Searchers canvassed by ATV, bicycle and foot and distributed thousands of fliers. Coordinators set up a Find Terry Smith page on Facebook that garnered more than 25,000 fans.
volunteer coordinators initially held out hope they would find Terry
but announced they called off the search and would now enter a "time of
"We want to thank everyone who is
following our efforts here and for the thousands of volunteers and
businesses that have helped this incredible search effort," the page
administrator posted Wednesday.
"PLEASE REMEMBER that
our focus has always been on Terry Smith, an 11 year old boy. Our focus
is still on that boy and the memory."