Teen Family Member Suspected of Murdering Missing Autistic Boy - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Teen Family Member Suspected of Murdering Missing Autistic Boy

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Menifee, CA -

A 16-year-old family member has been arrested on suspicion of murder in the case of a missing 11-year-old autistic boy in Southern California, police said Wednesday.

Menifee police Chief John Hill said at a news conference that a human body that matched the description of Terry Dewayne Smith Jr. was found partially exposed in a shallow grave on the family property.

The body has not yet been positively identified.

Hill said the death was the result of a domestic issue at the house.

Terry has a 16-year-old half brother who authorities have said was the last person to see the boy. However, Hill identified the suspect only as a "family member."

Terry had been missing from his Menifee home since Saturday, and hundreds of volunteers have helped search for him.

Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Albert Martinez said investigators dug up remains after serving a search warrant before dawn at the boy's home. There were no details on the condition of the remains.

Volunteers were told to stop searching Tuesday night, because searchers were getting stranded in the desert and causing problems, hours after local officials pledged to continue searching for the boy.

The boy was reported missing on Sunday morning in the Riverside County community about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Terry was last seen Saturday night, reportedly following his half brother, who told the boy to go home, the Desert Sun said. The boy's mother, Shawna Smith, said she didn't realize he was missing until the next day.

Searches of the area with a bloodhound, horses and a helicopter were unsuccessful. Hundreds of volunteers also joined the effort but days of covering miles of desert in 100-degree temperatures turned up nothing.


From Christina Gonzalez:

Many of the hundreds of people who helped search for eleven year old Terrry Smith Jr, returned to remember the 11 year old, whose body was found in a shallow grave in their backyard.

They wanted a different outcome, but they are glad it's over. Particularly difficult? The fact that the 16 year old relative, who was arrested on suspicion of murder, was amongst them during the search-thanking some, even.

At the same time, the family is part of this community, and everyone wants to be supportive of them... They were at the vigil, as well, but heavily guarded....handing us a copy of a handwritten statement, thanking the community for their help, but also saying they are not ready to make any comments.

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