A woman in Orange County says she led investigators to a body behind the family home of missing 11-year-old boy Terry Smith. Pam Ragland had never met the Smith family, but had a vision about the body's whereabouts. Tony Shin reports from Menifee for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on July 11, 2013.
An Orange County psychic who describes herself as “an intuitive” says she led police to the body of 11-year-old Terry Smith, who was missing for four days before the search was called off this week.
Human remains were found on the property where Smith’s family lived in Menifee, Calif., and a 16-year-old family member was arrested on suspicion of murder, authorities said Wednesday. A source of NBC4 Southern California's identified the suspect as Terry’s half-brother.
Full Coverage: Terry Smith Murder
Hundreds of volunteers searched more than 50 square miles of semirural Menifee in scorching heat, looking for Terry, who had last been seen on the night of July 7.
On Tuesday, Pam Ragland said she had a feeling that she knew where Terry was, and she went to the scene of the search that night, later finding the top of a head emerging from the dirt near a tree behind the Smith home.
The area had been repeatedly searched. Riverside County Sheriff’s Department officials would not comment Thursday on the record about Ragland. But on Friday morning, Sgt. Lisa McConnell confirmed that Ragland had found the body in the Smith backyard.
The operator of a business meant to help clients “erase addictions” and embrace change that employs a technique called “Quantum Thought Shifting,” Ragland said she has visions. Speaking with NBC4 on Thursday, Ragland said she helped with the search for two hikers who were missing in Orange County for several days earlier this year.
Watching the news Tuesday about the continuing search for Terry Smith, Ragland said she thought “something’s not right.”
“I got this flash and I saw the boy laying under a tree. I thought he was sleeping,” Ragland told NBC4. “There was a dirt road, and I saw this distinctive building.”
She said she called her daughter, whom she described as “also intuitive,” and asked her to try to “talk” to Terry. Then she called the Sheriff’s Department’s tip line.
She said authorities asked her to come down to the scene; Ragland arrived with her two children on Tuesday evening. During the drive, Ragland said she had another vision – of “city lights” and the word “no.” When she arrived at the search area, she saw the view she had seen in a vision.
“It’s literally like a vision in your head, like you’re looking at something,” she said.
A searcher said the city lights represented the area they planned to explore. Ragland said, “No, he’s not there.”
She looked around and said she believed Terry was “behind the store,” referring to the Menifee Market, adjacent to the Smith home and the location where volunteer searchers had gathered.
“I had this knowing that he was in a certain direction,” Ragland said.
An off-duty firefighter named Dave offered to drive Ragland around to search, she said. During the drive, she spotted an open shed that resembled what she had seen in her initial vision. It was near the Smith family home.
The firefighter, Ragland said, convinced the Smith family to let them on to the property. There, they saw a single tree like the one Ragland had seen in her vision.
“Then I smelled something. Something that smelled dead,” she recalled.
Her children saw a “lump” in the ground inside a fence near the tree.
“I said, ‘That’s not a dead animal.’ It was a head. What we were seeing was the top of his head, his hair,” she said. “He had obviously been there for a while.”
Ragland and the firefighter called authorities. Later, on Wednesday, acting Menifee Police Chief John Hill said the remains found at the location matched the description of Terry Smith.
“I felt devastated because I thought we were going to help this family find a live child,” Ragland said.
As of Thursday evening, the Riverside County Coroner’s office still had not positively identified the body found in the Smiths’ backyard.