It’s been a year since Terry and Sharon Smith went missing following a fire at their remote cabin in the Laycock Creek Road area in July 2018.
Terry Smith, 67, Sharon Smith, 65, and their silver gray 2006 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck could not be found when firefighters arrived at the site on Nan’s Rock Road in the early morning hours of July 18.
Friends and relatives of the Smiths told investigators the couple were very social and wouldn’t just disappear without telling anyone.
On Aug. 2, 2018, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer reported that his office and the FBI had made some contacts in the case and conducted numerous interviews. On Sept. 5, Palmer announced that the investigation was being treated as a homicide after human remains were discovered in the debris of the burned home.
A month and a half later, Palmer announced two breakthroughs in the case. The Boise Police Department had located the missing pickup truck in Boise, Idaho, and DNA testing of the human remains found at the scene were found to conclusively be from Terry Smith.
In a July 18 press release marking the one-year anniversary of the fire, Palmer noted that remains from both Terry and Sharon Smith have now been positively identified by using DNA comparisons with relatives.
Palmer said the investigation “is continuing and is very active.” Evidence has been delivered to the Oregon State Police Forensic Service Unit and the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office.
The sheriff’s office also has been working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Bend, the Oregon State Police and local agencies outside Oregon, Palmer said.
The pickup truck has been returned to Oregon and impounded and has been processed as part of the crime scene. The Oregon Department of Justice has been assigned as lead prosecution for the case, Palmer said.
“We are not able to divulge further information about this case as we do not want to compromise what work has been done,” Palmer said.
Terry and Sharon Smith were known to let people stay on the 80- to 100-acre property in the Laycock Creek area between Mt. Vernon and John Day that the couple bought in the mid-1990s, according to Sharon’s sister Cathy Hinshaw, who lives in Hawaii.
Terry and Sharon first met in junior high school in Springfield, Hinshaw said. He was 13, and Sharon was 12. Even at 13, Terry was a “go-getter,” Hinshaw said. He found a job as a bus boy at a restaurant at a large hotel in Eugene and one month later was the assistant manager, she said.
“His goal at the time was to have a career in hotel management,” she said.
The Smiths never had children. They were always working and keeping busy — Terry with his various business interests along with hunting and fishing, and Sharon gardening and reupholstering furniture or working for senior homes and Hospice. Hinshaw recalled them serving food at homeless shelters on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Terry would give you the shirt off his back,” she said.