With candles in their hands and grief in their hearts, hundreds of mourners gathered to remember Terry Smith Jr., whose half brother is accused in his slaying. Kim Baldonado reports from Menifee for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on July 12, 2013.
Hundreds of mourners gathered in Menifee Friday night to remember an 11-year-old boy whose half brother has been charged with his murder.
Releasing orange balloons (pictured below) and cradling candles, Terry Smith Jr.’s supporters demanded justice for the boy who went missing July 7.
The vigil at Wheatfield Park came just hours after the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office announced it would file a murder charge against Skylor Atilano, 16, in the death of his younger half brother.
Atilano, who had not previously been identified, will not appear in juvenile court until Monday, the DA's office said. Unless a judge prohibits it, the initial detention hearing will be open to the media and public because of the murder charge.
Hundreds volunteered to search for the boy amid scorching heat around the Smith home about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
On Tuesday night, an Orange County woman who describes herself as an “intuitive” went to the scene of the search after having a vision of Terry under a tree. In the family home’s backyard, she found a decaying head sticking out of the raw dirt, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department confirmed.
A body was unearthed on Wednesday, and Capt. John Hill, Menifee’s acting police chief, said it matched the description of Terry.
Coroner’s officials still had not confirmed the identity of the body by Friday morning, but the DA's news release about the pending charge against Atilano said "body of Terry Smith Jr. was found" on Smith family property.