After the body of a missing 11-year-old autistic boy in Southern California was found buried in a shallow grave, the boy’s 16-year-old half-brother was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Terry Dewayne Smith Jr. went missing Saturday. His half-brother was reportedly the last person to see Smith alive.
Smith’s body was found partially exposed in a shallow grave on his family’s property, Menifee police Chief John Hill said Wednesday. He was found under a tree about 75 feet away from his home.
Hill said the boy’s death was the result of a domestic issue. Hill identified the suspect only as a “family member” of Smith’s. His father lives outside of California and was ruled out as a suspect in the case.
When the boy went missing, hundreds volunteered in the search to find him.
“We too have a special needs child and we know how sometimes that they wander off and our hearts are breaking,” said volunteer Danielle Adamson.
The boy was reportedly last seen following his big brother to the store on Saturday. The teen said he told Smith to go home. He was not reported missing until Sunday. His mother, Shawna Smith, claimed she did not realize he was gone until the next day.
Authorities worried the boy may have wandered into the desert in the 100-degree heat without food, water or his medication.
“He acts and looks like he's 7,” family friend Sophia Masih warned searchers. “Because he hasn't taken any of his medication his personality could be very angry, [so] no sudden movements or anything like that.”
About 1,000 volunteers were told to halt the search on Tuesday night after many volunteers became stranded in the desert terrain.