Terry Smith's Mother: 'I've Learned to Cope With the Pain'

Shawna Smith (left) listens to instructions given to search team members on the first day of the...

Shawna Smith (left) listens to instructions given to search team members on the first day of the search for her son Terry Smith Jr. in July, 2013.
Sunday afternoon -- at the end of this week's one-year anniversary of her son's death -- Shawna Smith will once again be surrounded by community members and the media in front of Menifee Market on Scott Road.

As her oldest son sits in a juvenile detention center in French Valley, accused in the murder of his half brother Terry Smith Jr. last July, Shawna Smith continues to deal with a nightmare that won't go away.

On July 10, 2013, the body of 11-year-old Terry Smith Jr. (left) was found buried in a shallow grave in the back yard of the family residence, located directly behind the small neighborhood market where he often visited. It was a sad ending to a three-day search by thousands of area residents throughout the Valley following the boy's disappearance while in the care of his older brother, Skylor Atilano. That same day, Atilano was arrested on suspicion of Terry's death.

In an exclusive interview with Menifee 24/7 today, Smith said her love for Terry and the support from family and friends is what has sustained her throughout the last year. She knows Sunday's 2 p.m. memorial service in front of Menifee Market will bring back troubling memories, but she has found ways to endure the difficult times.

"A lot of therapy," said Shawna Smith, also known as Bekkah. "That, and a great support system from those close to me. My memories of JuJu have been my godsend. I've learned to cope with the pain."

The search for JuJu -- Terry's nickname -- brought the community of Menifee together in ways never before seen. Residents meeting each other for the first time worked hand in hand, searching rugged rural areas as well as downtown shopping centers for any sign of the boy.

"It literally warmed my heart," Smith said about the community support at the time. "It was a pure example of what my son was. To see these people working together, doing what he valued, was so touching."

Although the circumstances surrounding Terry's death remain unclear, Shawna Smith continues to support her oldest son Skylor (right), who recently turned 17. Atilano stands accused of