(MENIFEE, Calif.) — The 16-year-old half-brother of a Menifee, Calif., boy whose body was found in a shallow grave behind his house has been charged with the boy’s murder, officials said.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office charged the 16-year-old with the murder of his 11-year-old half-brother, Terry Smith Jr., on Friday, according to a news release.
ABCNews.com is not releasing the name of the teenager because he is a juvenile.
Investigators originally said Terry was last seen from his family’s Menifee home around 9 p.m. on July 6 and was gone the next morning, according to ABC News’ Los Angeles station KABC-TV.
But the story changed on Wednesday when the brother allegedly told officials that Terry had followed him on the way to a friend’s house the night he disappeared, and when he realized Terry was following him, he told him to go home, KABC-TV reported.
At around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, someone from the Smith home called police to report possible remains in the backyard, according to KABC. Police found a shallow grave about 75 feet from the house when they arrived.
While Shawna Smith, the mother of both Terry and his half-brother declined to comment to KABC-TV, Terry’s aunt, Tracy Armato, called the boy’s death “a double tragedy for our family.”
“While we are in the process of putting Juju to rest, we are also trying to have an understanding of what occurred,” Armato told KABC-TV.
Meanwhile, Terry’s father, Terry Smith Sr., characterized the relationship between the teenager and his younger siblings as troubled.
“Shawna knew [the half-brother’s] disposition, she knew that he did get violent with his brothers and sisters, and I begged her to get him the right kind of help,” he told KABC-TV.
The 16-year-old is due in juvenile court at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Calif., Monday afternoon. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has also filed a request for a hearing to decide whether he should be tried as an adult, a news release said.
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