That day, Tera’s mother, Marilyn, spent the afternoon running errands with her daughter before dropping her off at home. Tera’s younger sister, Sierra, was also home with Tera at the time.
Then, Marilyn headed to work at the family business– known as the Oasis Fun Center– which was home to everything from mini-golf to go-karts. The fun center was located only a few miles from the Smith family’s home.
Tera was also supposed to work a shift at the Oasis Fun Center that evening. But, to Marilyn’s surprise, her daughter never showed up.
Marilyn ended up phoning home to see what was going on, and her youngest daughter, Sierra, explained how Tera had left for a jog and claimed she would only be gone for twenty minutes. According to Sierra, though, those twenty minutes came and went, and Tera never arrived back home.
So, Marilyn decided to just head home and drive down any road where Tera might have been jogging. But after combing the streets that night, the mother found no sign of her daughter.
She was also very frustrated with Tera but grew increasingly worried as time went on. According to Marilyn, Tera never missed work– a track record that indicated something horrible had happened.
“It had never happened before. So I was frustrated with her until it turned real. Until we realized she might not be coming home,” Marilyn recalled.
Still, the Smith family held onto hope that Tera might have just been at a friend’s house. So, before they contacted the police, the Smiths phoned some of Tera’s friends as well as an ex-boyfriend.
At first, no one knew where the sixteen-year-old was. But then, Marilyn received a call back from one of Tera’s friends.
“I think she was having an inappropriate relationship with Troy,” Tera’s friend revealed. Troy was Tera’s 29-year-old Taekwondo instructor, and alarm bells immediately went off in Marilyn’s mind.
At that point, she contacted the police. Then, Marilyn and her husband, Terry, traveled to Troy’s home at 9:00 p.m. that night to speak with the Taekwondo instructor. According to Troy’s wife, though, he was not home at the time.