MENIFEE (CBSLA.com) — The Riverside County Coroner’s Office on Thursday officially identified the remains of Terry Smith, the 11-year-old Menifee boy discovered buried in the backyard of his house.
Police say Smith’s older half-brother — Skylor Atilano — allegedly buried him there after killing him
The exact cause of Terry Smith Jr.’s death was pending — coroner’s officials only confirmed he was murdered, according to Sheriff’s Sgt. Lisa McConnell.
Smith Sr., who lives in West Virginia, told reporters that police believed Atilano hit Smith Jr. over the head with a rock.
The boy’s mother contacted Riverside County sheriff’s deputies on July 7 to report him missing.
Atilano reportedly first told authorities he had last seen Terry Jr. playing video games in his bedroom. Two days later, the teenager changed his story, telling police his brother followed him to a nearby market when he told him to return home.
For days, volunteers fanned out over the area to look for Terry Jr., who was described by his mother as autistic with the mental capacity of a 7-year-old — a claim his father vehemently denied.
Atilano was arrested and charged with murder. He is being held at Southwest Juvenile Hall in Murrieta. He is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Sept. 17.
Prosecutors have said they want to try Atilano as an adult.
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