Terry Smith Missing: Autistic Boy's Teenage Relative Arrested on Suspicion of Murder
By Maxine Wally | Jul 11, 2013 01:33 PM EDT
A 16-year-old relative of the 11-year-old autistic boy who went missing from his home in Riverside County, Calif. was taken in by law enforcement officials on suspicions that he killed the young boy.
Authorities have not identified the relative by name or relationship, the Los Angeles Times reported, but did mention that he was arrested in alleged connection with the death of Terry Dewayne Smith, a child that has been described as a high-functioning autistic child.
Smith was last seen on Saturday night before his body was found in a small, dirty grave not far from his house in Menifee.
When asked about the matter, Riverside County Sheriff's Capt. John Hill told the press that his death was "a domestic issue within the residence."
A bit before 1 a.m. on Wednesday, Terry's limp body was found in a shallow hole in the ground, according to investigators who spoke with the LA Times.
The last person to see Terry was his 16-year-old stepbrother. He told Riverside County law enforcement that he instructed Terry return home when he found the 11-year-old following him to a nearby grocery store. The stepbrother was supposedly responsible for taking care of Terry that evening, as his mother was out.
When Terry's mom came home around 1 a.m. on Sunday, she said she thought she saw her son sleeping in his bed upon checking on him. The next morning, she reported him missing.
Come Sunday, the Menifee area was steeped in the hunt for the child-the young boy with blond hair was reported as last seen wearing blue basketball shorts. His mother described him as a "high-functioning" autistic, the LA Times reported. Search crews, law-enforcement canines, helicopters, and horses searched the area for Terry. Around 1,000 people comprised the search party.
Soon, investigators informed the close community near Lake Elsinore that Terry's body had been found in a ditch, devastating the many that knew him.
"We will find a way to remember him in our hearts," one of the boy's fourth-grade teachers, Jenny Smith, said.