Charges in the suspected murder of an 11-year-old Menifee boy could be filed as early as tomorrow according to the district attorney. Police arrested a 16-year-old family member after human remains matching a description of Terry Smith Jr. were found on the family's property. The coroner could also officially ID the remains by tomorrow. The news hit Menifee hard, it also took a toll on some people from the Coachella Valley who helped during the search.
Hundreds of volunteers combed through the rural area of Menifee for four days searching for 11-year-old Terry Smith Jr. People from all over Riverside County showed up to help, including a handful from the Coachella Valley. People like Halle Fetty. "I have a 23-year-old daughter, and an almost 31-year-old son," said Fetty, an Indio resident. "Any parent can understand what drove me to go."
Something more personal drove Mika Moulton, who founded Christopher's Clubhouse, a safety education program for children and families, after her 10-year-old son was abducted and murdered. She found a need to go because of similarities in the case. "My son was wearing blue shorts, Terry was wearing blue shorts," said Moulton. Terry's a blonde, my son's a blonde. My son was buried in a shallow grave, Terry was buried in a shallow grave."
Both Moulton and Fetty got told to stop looking after the Menifee police chief announced a gruesome end to the search. Human remains found on the Smith family property matched Terry's description. Fetty feels like many of the volunteers do. "I was really angry," said Fetty. "Not because of the time and energy wasted, but this poor little kid had no chance to make it."
The chief also announced the arrest of a 16-year-old family member, another emotional blow for the volunteers. "Now we have two, not just one child lost from the community," said Moulton. "Two children lost in the community and that's so heartbreaking."
While our volunteers at home mourn and process the results of their search, Fetty remains encouraged by a community's willingness to help the helpless. "Be proud that you went out and did what you did," said Fetty.