Producer’s Note: This story first appeared here.
“I lived in Menifee, California for about over three years. During that time I went to the local high school and let me just say that a lot of crazy stuff went down while I attended.
One time a library employee showed up to the school very early in the morning and shot herself in her car. The body was discovered during second period. What creeps me out most of all was that I passed by her car while walking to school that morning and didn’t even notice it.
Another time an undercover cop posing as a student was able to identify kids that were selling narcotics and a huge drug bust ensued shortly after. Strangely enough on that same day that happened, while I was walking to school, some guy I knew asked if I wanted to buy pot off of him which I wisely declined. Later on I saw that same guy get arrested and escorted out of my classroom. The event itself closely mirrored the film 21 Jump Street. Pretty awesome.
However the one event that was probably the biggest and shook the entire community was the disappearance and death of a local boy named Terry Dewayne Smith Jr. The tragedy happened during the summer after the 2013 school year. I didn’t know who the boy was but I did know his older brother, Skylor.
I knew Skylor from school. He was in my first period English class at the time. I didn’t talk much to him even though he sat near me but on the times that I did say a word to him, he was friendly. He came off as a little odd but I personally didn’t think he was really that strange. He had his own group of friends that were all easy to get along with. Something of note that did happen early on in the school year was a confrontation he got in, with another student.
I remember hearing about how this one guy said something offensive to Skylor which greatly angered him and erupted into a fight. The kid’s front tooth got knocked out. At the time it seemed funny to everyone else but it was an indicator of how far he’d be willing to go to when it came to getting agitated.
Anyways onto the main story. After school ended that year I spent most of the summer just hanging out with my trio of friends. One day I was in my room doing nothing of interest, so I decided to go on Facebook. While on there Skylor posted something that appeared on my news feed. He said his little brother had gone missing and was urging his friends to be on the look out for his whereabouts. I found it pretty unfortunate but thought the kid probably would be found the same day.
Either the same day or the next, I forgot which, I happened to be watching the news and the number one topic was the disappearance of a boy named Terry. A picture of him was then put up. On closer examination I noticed he was the same boy that Skylor had posted about earlier. Apparently the situation had gotten dire and the brother’s mother Shawna had called for a group effort to go and search for the boy.
As the days went on more and more people went out in search of young Terry. I believe Skylor made a few more posts about it but I could be wrong. Eventually he was made a suspect and was taken into custody by the police because he was the last person to see Terry alive before he went missing. I remember hearing about how a lot of his friends were in denial and disbelief. To them he could never do such a thing. Since I personally didn’t know Skylor that well, I couldn’t really pass judgement at the time.
While in custody Skylor changed his story several times about his last encounter with his brother. His main one being that they were home alone and he decided to leave and go hang out with his friends and that supposedly Terry followed him for a while until Skylor told him he couldn’t tag along and ordered him to return home. This set up his theory that Terry was probably abducted by someone that night.
Finally after several days of searching, Terry’s body was eventually discovered behind the family home under a tree in a shallow grave. The general consensus at the time was that Skylor did kill him for unknown reasons and tried to bury him. Some even thought that the mother was in on it because she was still in defense of Skylor who was then charged with the crime. Shawna acted pretty strangely such as saying Terry had autism and that supposedly at first she didn’t let the cops investigate her property. After the corpse was discovered, the huge search party was promptly called off and a candle lite vigil was held for Terry.
In the aftermath a lot of drama ensued. Terry’s father came into town from the other side of the country and claimed that his ex wife had lied about their son having autism and demanded to take his body back with him to be buried in his local area. He even sued Shawna for a large amount of money. I think it was for child negligence or for emotional distress. The two even appeared and debated on the Dr. Phil show but nothing came out of that besides what everyone already knew.
Since at the time Skylor was a minor, he wasn’t charged as an adult. He was found guilty of manslaughter but was offered a plea deal, the details of which have not been released to the public. Apparently what actually happened was that the brothers were rough housing when Terry accidentally got killed. Their mother later suggested something like the boy hitting his head on the corner of a table or something. In a panic Skylor tried to bury him in the backyard. What was strange was that knowing what had happened, Skylor still went to Facebook and asked for help in searching for his brother instead of just confessing. Skylor was sentenced to 12 years and will stay in juvenile detention until he’s 23.
The links to the case will be listed below. Overall this was pretty tragic and it’s crazy how one day I was talking to someone in class and the next he’s on the news for his own brother’s murder.”