The father of an 11-year-old Menifee boy whose remains were believed to have been found in a shallow grave held a public memorial service Thursday evening to thank community members for their support.
The 6:30 p.m. event for Terry Smith Jr. was held at Lamb’s Fellowship Church at 21901 Railroad Canyon Road in Lake Elsinore. A large crowd was expected, and Smith's father asked attendees to wear blue, his son's favorite color.
Smith was reported missing July 7, prompting a massive search by authorities and hundreds of volunteers in the semirural suburb about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles. A partially exposed body was discovered three days later behind the boy's mother's Menifee home, bringing an end to the 50-square-miles search and devastating community members.
"I'd just love to embrace all of Menifee, and everybody who was out here for it," said the boy's father, Terry Smith Sr.
The boy's 16-year-old half brother, Skylor Atilano, was charged with his murder. Atilano's parents said they stand by his side.
Smith Sr. and Atilano's mother, Shawna Smith, have married and divorced twice. She exclusively told NBC4's Tony Shin on Wednesday that she has received death threats, and people have accused her of being involved in her son's death despite being cleared by police. She said she took a polygraph test and passed.
Atilano will be back in court in September. The Riverside County District Attorney's office is trying to prosecute him as an adult in the case.
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