Missing boy with autism: Search continues in Menifee


Terry Dewayne Smith was last seen at his home in the 33000 block of Helen Lane Saturday night. Authorities are asking for the public's help in finding him.

"The child is autistic. He does have the mental capacity of a 7-year-old," said Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Albert Martinez.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department has its incident command post covered with search equipment. Volunteers set up a post of their own two blocks away where more than 50 people were assigned areas to search for Smith and picked up snacks for the road.

"I have an autistic son as well. It would be devastating to have my son be missing, and I would want to go out and try to find him and have the help as well," said Jackie Romney, a volunteer searcher.

"I've spoken to the mother. What we're just telling them is OK he is verbal, but he may at this point be dehydrated," said Julia Rogoff, a volunteer searcher.

According to investigators, Smith was last seen in his stepbrother's room around 9 p.m. Saturday. He was gone Sunday morning. The search for him has been on since, up and down steep and rough terrain.

"We've been calling his name and looking behind bushes and behind trees," said Tyler O'Keefe, a volunteer searcher.

"If you look at the properties there's a lot of acreage and a lot of big properties, so we do have to go and search through those properties, which makes it kind of difficult also because of the terrain," said Martinez.

A sheriff's helicopter and a bloodhound were also brought in to help with the search. On Monday, a deputy was stationed in front of the house where the missing child lives with his mother.

Smith, who responds to the name "JuJu," has blond-sandy hair and brown eyes. He is 4 feet 8 inches tall, weighs 76 pounds and was last seen wearing blue basketball shorts.

Authorities do not suspect foul play. Deputies say they don't know of any fight or argument Smith may have had with one of his relatives to make him run away.

Anyone with information was asked to contact the Riverside County Sheriff's Department at (951) 776-1099.

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