A five-day search for a Menifee, California missing autistic boy has now been called off. As you can see in the top video from local news source Press Enterprise, on Wednesday the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department began to focus on possible human remains that they found in a rugged area near the home of missing 11-year-old Terry Dewayne Smith Jr.
As a result of their investigation, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has now arrested Terry’s 16-year-old relative for the murder of the autistic boy who had vanished sometime Saturday night.
Because of his age, the suspect hasn’t been identified by name. Media sources have simply referred to the suspect as a 16-year-old family member. Riverside County told Press Enterprise that the family was cooperating with their investigation but they haven’t revealed a lot of information about any motive behind the crime.
Volunteers who joined the search on Wednesday were reportedly stunned by the information that the remains had been found so close to home.
At one point, as many as 1,000 volunteers and multiple agencies were working together in temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit to find the missing autistic boy who was last seen on Saturday night.
His mother, Shawna Smith, had said that she left Terry with his 16-year-old brother while she went out to dinner. However, the older boy had given conflicting information about when he last saw his brother.
In early reports, he said he had last seen the boy in their home. However, he later said that on Saturday night he went to visit a friend, noticed the autistic boy following him, and told him to go home alone.
According to a KABC-Los Angeles report, the remains were found in a shallow grave under a pepper tree behind the Smith home. As a result of the find, the area around the house was blocked off as a crime scene. Riverside County Sheriff’s Department then served a search warrant on the home that ultimately resulted in an arrest in the murder of the Menifee missing autistic boy.
[Terry Smith photo via Riverside County Sheriff’s Department]
[Riverside County, California photo by Ken Lund via Flickr, Creative Commons]