Teen Charged With Killing Little Brother; Father Speaks Out

Skylor Atilano, 16, will be charged with the alleged murder of his 11-year-old half-brother, Terry Dewayne Smith, Jr. Patch spoke with Terry Jr.'s father late Thursday about the two Menifee boys.

Skylor Atilano (Credit: Facebook)
Skylor Atilano (Credit: Facebook)

This story was first published at 12:07 p.m. July 12, and updated at 4:52 p.m.

The father of the 11-year-old Menifee boy now feared to be dead after human remains fitting his description were found Wednesday said he will make every effort to bring his son’s ashes home.

Terry Dewayne Smith Sr. also told Patch late Thursday in a telephone interview that he feels Terry Jr.'s 16-year-old half-brother, Skylor Atilano—who the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office publicly identified Friday when it announced it has decided to file a murder charge against him in the case—may have been harboring a deep-seated anger against the boy.

The DA’s Office is requesting that the juvenile court conduct a hearing to determine whether Skylor’s case should be handled in adult court. The first hearing in juvenile court, scheduled for Monday, July 15, is called a detention hearing, not an arraignment, according to the DA's office.

Terry Dewayne Smith Jr.—who had the nickname of “JuJu” since birth because his sister had trouble saying Junior—was reported missing Sunday, July 7 from the Helen Lane home where he lived with his mother, her partner, his 13-year-old half-sister and Skylor.

A massive search effort for the boy was launched, involving law enforcement and countless volunteers.

Smith said he first heard Terry Jr. was missing when the boy’s mother, Shawna Smith, called him on Sunday to ask if he was in town.

Smith lives in Charleston, West Virginia and told Patch he has legal custody of Terry Jr.

He said he kept up on the search effort through Facebook, relatives and friends of the family.

Through one conversation, he said he learned there may have been a fight between the two boys. The two were reportedly left home together the night of Saturday, July 6, according to Riverside County sheriff’s officials.

Smith believes Skylor was angry with Terry Jr. because he would be able to return to his father in West Virginia. But because they had different fathers, it wasn’t so cut and dry for Skylor.

“There was a very deep-seated anger there. It was a time bomb waiting to go off,” said Smith, adding that family members had experienced his alleged aggressive behavior.

Smith said he’d raised the older boy from the time he was 18 months old until he was 7.

Terry Jr. lived with him until he was 8, he said.

“Me and (Shawna) made an agreement, had it notarized and turned into the court that he (Terry Jr.)  could go out there (California) as long as I was able to keep up on visits and phone calls,” Smith said. “I last talked to him a few months ago, just before school was out and he said he wanted to come home for good.”

Smith said it was agreed that he would pay for Terry Jr.’s plane ticket once school let out, but that call never came.

Then early Wednesday, partially-buried human remains were discovered on the Helen Lane property in Menifee.

As of Friday morning, coroner’s officials have yet to confirm the remains were those of Terry Jr., though Menifee police Chief John Hill said during a news conference Wednesday “they fit the description.”

Smith said he submitted DNA through a state trooper’s office in West Virginia. He was told the DNA would be used to help identify his son.

“I went right down there,” Smith said.

At 62 years old, Smith said his fear when Terry Jr. was born was that he wouldn’t live to see him grow up.

“But now the good Lord took him home, so that fear is no longer there,” Smith said.

Smith said he still considers Skylor his son, explaining that Terry Jr. came from a family of five brothers and sisters.

“As far as I am concerned he is my son and I’m his dad and it will always be that way,” Smith said of the older boy.

“I’ve always been the stay-at-home-dad,” Smith said. “Some may say I spoil them but I am just showing them love.”

Smith said the 16-year-old has been a victim of circumstances. He was not 100 percent sure, but said he thinks he recalled hearing the boy was on probation. For what, he did not know.

“Nobody understands the hell that child has been through.”

Menifee neighbors paint a slightly different picture.

Heather Blume, 37, manages Menifee Market, located next door to the home where the 11-year-boy lived with his half brother. The Menifee resident said she would see the family almost daily and described them as generally to themselves, adding that Terry was “an old soul, kind and very quiet.”

She described Terry’s half-brother as an introvert who may have had “some problems,” but said she never saw him hurt his siblings.

Dallal Harb, 31, owns Menifee Market with her husband. The neighborhood store is situated in the semi-rural western Menifee community that’s dotted with ranchettes and manufactured homes.

Harb was the carpool mom who took Terry home from school everyday. He would come into the store for a snack and drink, she said.

“He would go to the counter, and I would tell him, ‘Those are yours [the snacks],’ and he wouldn’t leave until we told him it was ok,” Harb said. “He was the sweetest kid ever. I’m just heartbroken.”

Harb said she never saw anything out of the ordinary regarding the family that included Terry’s mom Shawna and her girlfriend, a 16-year-old son who is a half-brother to Terry, as well as a sister believed to be between the ages of the two boys.

Harb’s house is on the same parcel as her market. She and her husband have lived on the two-and-half-acre property for 16 years, she said. She never saw anything unusual.

“They are a nice family,” she continued, estimating that Shawna and the kids moved in about seven years ago.

“She is a very good mom, a nice mom,” she added.

Editor's Note: According to a written statement from the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, by law, because of the charge of murder, all court proceedings in this case—unless and until specified by the judge—are open to the media and the public.

More Coverage on the Terry Smith Story:

Roy Holmgren July 12, 2013 at 08:17 PM
Roy Holmgren July 12, 2013 at 05:16 pm How was my statement defending in any way? I just wonder about the other horrible crimes that I have read about that deleted the person's identity based on the fact that they were a minor. What makes this case any different/ Name another under aged teen that has been identified so openly after being charged?
Roy Holmgren July 12, 2013 at 08:17 PM
Roy Holmgren July 12, 2013 at 05:16 pm How was my statement defending in any way? I just wonder about the other horrible crimes that I have read about that deleted the person's identity based on the fact that they were a minor. What makes this case any different/ Name another under aged teen that has been identified so openly after being charged?
PirateGirl July 12, 2013 at 08:37 PM
Roy, The Patch is only reporting as all the other media sources are. Your words " Obviously the Patch is low class ....well no class" was a bit no class in itself.
Rosita Whittaker July 12, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Dorothy July 12, 2013 at 11:30 PM
who cares if he's a minor.. HE'S A MURDERER !!!!!!!
Maggie Avants (Editor) July 13, 2013 at 12:32 AM
The story was updated with an editor's note, but we will explain further here in the comment section: California penal code permits the publication of the suspect’s name due to the severity of the alleged offense.
Brenda July 13, 2013 at 02:43 AM
Here ya go Roy. "Patch" got it covered of course before publishing it. "Editor's Note: According to a written statement from the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, by law, because of the charge of murder, all court proceedings in this case—unless and until specified by the judge—are open to the media and the public."
kristin c July 13, 2013 at 10:51 AM
Skylar shouldve taken issue with his mom , not terry. It wasn't the Terrys fault the two boys had different dads and a mother who only looked out for herself. I hope he is tried in adult court. He made an fault decision when he committed murder.
kristin c July 13, 2013 at 10:55 AM
Roy, did authorities release a name or are the media just assuming the 16 year old family member is skylor? I wonder if this kids defense will be able to find an impartial jury around these parts. Maybe change the venue to a remote location in Alaska?
Roy Holmgren July 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM
Just because it is lawful does not make it ethical. Just because the rest of the media is doing it does not make it right, I am sure that some Google searches can turn up equally serious crimes done in this county by a minor where the identity of the charged minor was protected. A deterrmination to try him as an adult has not even been made yet. This early release of information just doesn't serve any purpose other than to feed into the sensationalization of the story for the profit and promotion of the media but to the detriment of the defendent minor. If found guilty the teenager needs to rot in hell, but the DA and media need to hold themselves to a consistent level of ethical and moral standards. Not just legal standards.
Cathy Neumann-Bearse July 13, 2013 at 11:16 AM
OUCH! Man you people are mean! Look does it make you feel better about yourself to slander these people. One of my favorite Biblical sayings is "They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!" Come on people .. I am not saying what happened is wrong or right I am just saying ... we have no rights to cast judgement .. we should never be righteous in anything we say!!
Fired up July 13, 2013 at 12:26 PM
This is tragic for all involved, the victims are the children, yes 16 is still a child. Adults need to stop being so cruel I'm sure whatever this young person is going through in painful enough without the brutal comments of adults. 2 lives are lost in this tragedy.
Sarah B July 13, 2013 at 01:53 PM
@ROY HOLMGREN just move on.....don't read the news! it might not feel ETHICAL but there wasn't any ethics or values in the crime he is being charged with. it's not like he just got arrested, he also got CHARGED with the crime. so again...Move ON!!
Sarah B July 13, 2013 at 01:55 PM
@fired up IF IT WAS YOUR CHILD THAT GOT MURDERED.....I sure hope you would feel different! maybe read the sports blog.....so you won't feel that these people are being cruel. now WHO was cruel to WHO this past weekend???? A 16 YR OLD TO A younger child.....mind you his blood relative.!!
Steve Newman July 13, 2013 at 03:01 PM
This kid skylor had the audacity to go on facebook and thank all of those who searched for his stepbrother. Probably right after he buried him. The body was discovered when the victims "swollen" head protruded from the ground. That's pretty graphic isn't it. And reading what his father wrote about blaming the mother-typical not my fault syndrome- I was in West Virginia- where there are no life guards on the gene pool.
Rosita Whittaker July 13, 2013 at 09:32 PM
As hard as the ground is, I don't see how Skylar buried Terry alone........too many suspicious circumstances and unexplained events!!!! The pieces of the story just Don't fit!!
Brenda July 14, 2013 at 12:28 AM
Roy, Roy Holmgren July 13, 2013 at 07:56 am In the day of twitter, facebook, instagram EVERYTHING gets around FAST. As soon as Skylor, his Mom, the "Partner", the neighbor, a police officer to his brother, anything is passed on the internet its guaranteed alot of people now have the information. "Some knew names of all family members, listening to the police radio channel for the case, had printed out messages from Terry and Skylors facebooks for the last week, got the 10-33 the moment the body was found, when they got the search warrant of the property, when the yellow tape was put up, that teachers were saying Terry was not autistic, and it goes on and on and on. So really Roy no matter what the police try to keep quiet, or the courts, or the media if told to, it wont happen in todays age of hightech fast messaging stuff.
Brenda July 14, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Rosita, Terry was not fully buried. When he was found(nearly 5 days after disappearance, ie, was his body there the entire time?) he was covered up with dirt and leaves. There was parts of him, his clothes, head showing through. I believe the Mother knew all the time, she did have fair warning the weekend before and did not do anything to prevent this from occuring. I believe she helped him cover up the body at some point in the search trying to cover up the fact that she knew Skylor was a time bomb and she just did not care.
Brenda July 14, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Steve, A Week before the murder Skylor made it clear that something was going to happen, if things didnt change to how he wanted them. Both his and Terry's Mother knew that, and so did Terry's father, who helped raise Skylor as everyone has read, heard, whatever. He says the Mother knew and should have done something, but he knew also and should have done something!! Someone should have done something and Terry would be alive today. Skylor put out warnings to his Mother and Terry. Ones that several people saw, and read and not one thought it was important enough to tell someone, anyone! Or try to seperate them for Terry's safety. Skylor was telling his Mother, do this, do that, or bottom line, you arent going to like what happens. This mother is just as responsible for this death as Skylor.
Brenda July 14, 2013 at 06:11 AM
Strange, Rosita I see your posts in my email but not on here. I will warn you to just IGNORE Many readers on here who will say you are making up stories, lying to get attention because you have information they do NOT. Unfortunately they do not understand that some of us know of ways to get information. I knew the moment they found the body, "psychic lady" and her two YOUNG daughters, knew things about the family, the entire case as it was happening. Like you there is also ways to do a tiny bit of research and find out a wealth of information, or have some good friends. I appreciate the fact that someone can comment on something that I dont know anything about, and I learn something new about a case, or an article that the Patch has written. Whether its you who gives the information or John Doe, it doesnt matter and I dont think they, me, you are looking for attention, quite the opposite especially in this case, they are just attempting to share something they know is fact. Your post when it shows up gives direction so others can see the posts that some of us have had since last Saturday when Terry went missing. Some very horrifying posts that Skylor made. So keep sharing because most of us appreciate it, and dont let anyone say you are making up stories, or trying to get attention because most of us know better :) I do one thing that insures my accuracy and that is to share my information immediately, times etc. so it shows when I find something out and that its spot on. Or I would not share it right? Who wants to make something up and it be wrong and get called out on it? Heck no to the no no's!!! LOL I rather be correct, keep my sources secret, share it and either someone is interested or not.
Brenda July 14, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Very strange again Rosita, I have your post in my email notification but its not here. I feel like I should copy and past them here for you? You are right, There is alot more to the case then is being said here or anywhere else and if your posts ever show up they are definately not harmful or caustic. I sometimes think that with some of the backgrounds alot of us have we almost solve some cases in the comments. LOL In this case its hard to have any reservations about saying anything about the entire situation, all the persons involved, especially the "Mother, Father to Terry, Step Father to Skylor". __________________________________________________ Usually the question at the end of an article is "how do you feel about this". So you put in your real feelings, thoughts, ideas, solutions, and if someone doesnt agree to the point of calling names(which does happen) that is their own thng. I like reading others posts as I learn some things I might have not known or something about a case that I had forgotten.
Brenda July 14, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Rosita Whittaker commented on the article "Teen Charged With Killing Little Brother; Father Speaks Out" you commented on in Breaking News: _______________________________________________ Hey.....who's Skylar??? Has anyone ever wondered about his parents, relatives, why Terry's father didn't expect to see Terry again after the mom told him that Skylar and Terry "got into it"?? Is anyone aware that Skylar's friends from school made a FB page called Skylar's Innocent, but it's been taken down?? What was happening at their home that Skylar just had to get away from?? Why would a single mom bring her family all the way to CA from Virginia?? Why would she bring a violent young man, knowing that he could bring harm??? Too many unanswered questions...........
Brenda July 14, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Skylor, is the 16 yr old half brother of Terry, who is charged with his murder. The Mother and the "Father" knew something needed to be done a few weeks ago but really on July 4th. Instead of either one of them doing something with Skylor, seperating him from the other two kids, ANYTHNG, they just blame each other as they continue to do today. Just because the "Father" of Terry lives in VA does not mean he could not have had him flown back there being as how he has custody. Terrys father is in his 60's and says he raised Skylor also, and Skylor also said some sickening statements bout sexual activites betweeen his father, himself and the Mother. This is one that books could be written if there is one person intelligent enough to have all of the information.
Steve Newman July 15, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Brenda- I know this is off subject- but you were going to get me the info on a range a friend of yours owns. If this is not that Brenda- sorry about that.
Rosita Whittaker July 15, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Okay, Brenda, sorry about deleting my posts.....LOL, this thread is so old, I never thought that you were still reading them. About, Who's Skylor, Seriously, who IS Skylor? Why did he come out here to CA, if he was violent. Terry Sr. Knew that he would never see Terry again if Skylor and Terry "got into it." Honestly, Nothing Makes Sense!!!! What did Terry Sr. Mean about Skylor needing help and also Shawna needing help, also???? Help with what??? I also read that Terry has 5 siblings back in Virginia...........Skylor's school friends believe that Skylor is Innocent!!! Supposedly, they made a FB page called Skylor's Innocent, but it's been taken down. Mom must have good protection and a smart attorney!!! Perhaps whoever killed Terry, threatened to either kill Skylor or make sure that he spent life in prison...........(this is why I delete my posts). My mind has been spinning on this case since last Wed. And I refuse to give up. When my son was 16, he was encountered by an old grandpa kinda guy at the gym that we worked out it. The old man tried to become my son's friend, but after further investigation, this old geezer was a pervert that belonged to a big organization that basically molested young boys. After research on websites, this group was worldwide and called Poneyboys..........Needless to say, my son was soooo angry!!! Sometimes certain situations bring back past expieriences!!! I hope that you read this, soon, cause I will probably delete it, too. :)
Rosita Whittaker July 15, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Hey, Brenda....I just posted a few minutes ago, and now it's gone!!! Guess I'm just not meant to make a connection.....
Rosita Whittaker July 15, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Hi, again, Brenda.......my last post was really long and apparently wasn't suitable for the Patch. If you want to discuss info concerning this case, you can email me at rosiewhitt2000@gmail.com. :)
Brenda July 16, 2013 at 04:36 PM
Gotcha Rosita............. STEVE, that would be me and I did forget, please spank me!! I will get his info off my facebook and send to you :)
livinsloher July 19, 2013 at 04:30 PM
ok... this so called dad... don't want to hear your excuses as to why you were not there or why the mother did not call you if you knew the situation then your dead beat butt should be imprisoned too! you failed at your responsibility as a parent BIG TIME!!! I don't know you nor want to as you were not heard from for how long??? then now you want to speak out??? should have done something long ago when you said things were not right! LOSER!!!!
livinsloher July 19, 2013 at 04:32 PM
OH BTW....can we put tape across the fathers mouth so we don't have to hear from the BIG LOSER???? wonder how much you paid in child support??? I don't know you but I can almost guess


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