MENIFEE, Calif. — The teenage suspect arrested on suspicion of murder in the disappearance of an 11-year-old California autistic boy is the child’s half brother, a person close to the investigation said Thursday.
The person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case, told the Associated Press that charges could be filed as soon as Friday against Terry Dewayne Smith Jr.’s 16-year-old half brother, whose name has not been released.
Police found a body matching Terry’s description Wednesday in a shallow grave under a tree about 75 feet from the house where he lived with his mother, half brother, and other family members.
The boy was reported missing Sunday by his mother, Shawna Smith, and was last seen Saturday evening by his half brother, police have said.
Authorities said late Wednesday that a 16-year-old male family member was arrested on suspicion of murder but declined to describe how the suspect was related to Terry.
The death was the result of ‘‘a domestic issue’’ at the house, said Menifee police Chief John Hill.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the body had been stashed near the boy’s house in this rural town 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles the entire time and, if so, how initial searches failed to turn it up.