Portland, Oregon, the idyllic city nestled between the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and, fun fact for me, home to The World’s Largest Bookstore. Portland is also home to Skyline Elementary School, a small school located a quick twenty-minute drive from the busy downtown epicenter. In 2010, the security at Skyline Elementary was a little more relaxed than the present day. At any time, a visitor could enter any of the nine exterior doors, and often times visitor badges were overlooked or not required. The teachers and staff had always been diligent about accounting for visitors and students, so the relaxed security measures didn’t seem alarming or concerning. June 4th, 2010 changed everything at Skyline Elementary.
In 2010, Kyron Horman was a bright and happy seven-year-old living with his father, Kaine, his stepmother Terri, and his siblings. Kyron’s biological mother Desiree turned over custody due to medical complications that were impeding her ability to take care of children. Terri was very involved in Kyron’s life. Terri was an elementary school teacher and volunteered often at Kyron’s school. Kyron excelled in his academics so much, he was in the 2nd grade advanced math class. Terri also taught Kyron sign language.
On a normal day for the Horman’s, Kaine would get ready for work, and Terri would take Kyron to the bus stop. June 4th, 2010 wasn’t a normal day, it was the day of the much-anticipated science fair. Kyron had prepared a project on red-eyed tree frogs, with some assistance from Terri. Kyron told his father how excited he was about the science fair, and they decided on ice cream after school to celebrate. Terri drove Kyron to school, in Kaine’s Ford truck, for the science fair so she could help him set up his project, along with his baby sister, “K”. They arrived around 8:00 a.m.
When they arrived at the school, Kyron went to his classroom first, to drop off his jacket and backpack at his desk. Then, Terri took the last photo she would ever take of Kyron, next to his red-eyed tree frogs project. The trio walked around the school looking at other projects and even returned some library books while walking around.
When the first bell rang at 8:45 a.m., Terri and Kyron had their usual race up the two staircases. Kyron liked to take the smaller, more traveled staircase, and Terri took the less traveled stairs because she was also carrying a baby, a diaper bag, and a purse. By the time Terri reached the top of the stairs, Kyron was already down the hall and almost to his class. Terri said she called out to Kyron, they waved at each other and she saw him continue on toward his class, so she turned and left.
At 3:30p.m. Kyron’s parents and baby sister were waiting for him at the bus stop, but he wasn’t on the bus. They thought Kyron must have assumed since Terri drove him to school that morning, that she would be picking him up as well. The bus driver called the school to let them know Kyron’s parents were on their way.
When the school secretary couldn’t find Kyron in the school, she checked the attendance and discovered Kyron had been marked absent that day. She called 911 at 3:46 p.m., around the same time Kyron’s parents were arriving at the school.
[This is a good time to add that the science fair was from 8-10, so attendance was not taken until 10 am. The kids were touring the science fair with their class from 9-10 with volunteer chaperones. Some kids rode the bus, some stayed with parents, it was very disorganized and chaotic. It’s reported that 500 extra people were in the school that morning.]
So why didn’t the school call the Horman’s when Kyron wasn’t present for attendance? Especially since his backpack and jacket were in their respective spots. According to Kyron’s teacher, she had a recent conversation with Terri who told her about making a doctor’s appointment for Kyron. Apparently, there was some concern about him staring off and becoming non-responsive and other odd behavior. Possibly absent seizures? Pure speculation. However, the doctor’s appointment wasn’t until the following Friday.
Once it was clear Kyron was missing, a message went out to all parents of Portland Public School students that a student named Kyron Horman never made it home after school. Kyron’s disappearance was being taken seriously, and once police were involved search efforts began immediately. The rapid response from law enforcement was frustratingly met with no leads, Kyron had been missing for hours before anyone knew, or were alerted. At least six precious hours had already ticked away before 911 was called.
Over the next ten days, an expansive search effort to find Kyron took place, and Multnomah County Sheriff’s office held a few press conferences. The search for Kyron ended up being the largest and most expensive effort in the state’s history. Law enforcement and hundreds of volunteers scoured a two-mile radius around the school and Kyron’s home. The school was searched, including crawlspaces, according to reports. No trace of Kyron was or has been found.
The public’s suspicion landed on the Horman family and their total silence. The family refused interviews stating they didn’t believe it was in the best interest of finding Kyron. This is the opposite of what you see in most missing person cases.
On June 11th, all four parents (Kyron’s biological mom Desiree remarried Tony Young) appeared for a press conference. The mothers did not speak. Kyron’s step-dad Tony read a letter directed to Kyron, and his father Kaine thanked the volunteers and asked for witnesses to come forward. It was odd, to say the least, and only added to the public suspicion.
-Terri and Desiree have a history before Kaine. Terri and Desiree were friends and when Desiree became sick, Terri and Kaine began their romance. Lot’s of weird relationship dynamics at play here. Way more than I’m going to concern you with.-
With Terri being the last person to reportedly see Kyron, she was obviously going to be looked into by law enforcement. When police received Terri’s cell phone records, they noticed her phone pinged on Sauvie Island. Sauvie Island is about ten miles north of Portland. It’s half wildlife refugee, and half rural farmland with one way on and off the island, the Sauvie Island Bridge. Sounds like the perfect location to dispose of a body, so it makes sense that law enforcement jumped on this possibility. This ping is generally always brought up when discussing this case, however, there are no cell phone towers on Sauvie Island. Let me also add I think using cell phone pings to track location is garbage science, it’s a roundabout guess-ish, and is only supposed to be used for billing purposes and call routing. The tower Terri’s phone pinged off of is NEAR Sauvie Island, and services that, and everywhere around it. It’s a rural area. Also, the bridge to and from the island had a camera taking pictures of every car that goes across. Kaine’s truck Terri was driving that day wasn’t on it.
So what is Terri’s account of her time on June 4th, 2010? She had a very detailed account of her day, parts of it down to the minute. Was there a reason she was so aware of her time that day, or just an odd coincidence?
8-8:45 a.m. – Skyline Elementary School for the science fair.
9-9:12 a.m. – Fred Meyer to get medication for Baby K’s ear infection. Terri was seen on surveillance footage at this location. She also had a receipt from the store stamped 9:12 for her coffee since that store location did not have the medicine she needed.
9:30-10 a.m. estimate – Fred Meyer #2. This location had the medication Baby K needed. Terri was also seen here by a witness who spoke with her.
10 a.m. -ish – Magic Dry Cleaners. This is in the same strip mall type location as the Fred Meyer. The owner verified seeing her around 10.
10:10 a.m. – best guess – Michael’s Craft Store.
10:39 a.m. – Terri made a phone call. I don’t know to who.
-Between the time Terri left the craft store and arriving at the gym, she has stated she was driving around aimlessly trying to get a fussy Baby K to sleep.-
11:39 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. – 24 Hour Fitness. Terri left Baby K in the daycare area.
12:40 p.m. – Arrived home.
1:21 p.m. – Terri uploads photos to Facebook.
2-ish p.m. – Kaine arrives home.
3:30 p.m. – Bus stop
The question is, did Terri have the opportunity and time to dispose of Kyron? Even though she accounted for parts of her down to the minute, there are still gaps of time missing and questionable circumstances still to be discussed. So yes, she could have accomplished it, but I don’t know if she did. The more I dig on this case, the more confused I get.
No trace of Kyron has ever been found, and no official suspect has ever been named. Searches still continue to this day, trying to bring Kyron home.
With so little to go on, and no body ever being discovered, mountains of theories and speculation surround this case.
Terri did it – This is the most popular theory and train of thought among followers of this case, and it definitely holds water. As with any theory based on minimal evidence, there are holes in it, but it’s still floating. Terri was asked to take a polygraph test, which in my opinion is also kind of garbage science, and she complied. In fact, she took three. She failed the first one and was MAD about it. She requested to take the second test and reportedly got mad and walked out mid-test. Best I can tell, the third test was inconclusive. None of her results have been confirmed by law enforcement, only Kaine, Desiree, and Terri herself. You can’t use it in court anyway.
Then there was the murder-for-hire plot. Terri hired a landscaper, Rudy Sanchez, to help her older son James with the large property they lived on. Kaine had wanted James to do it, but Terri felt it was too much for the fifteen-year-old. Supposedly, many months before Kyron’s disappearance there was a meeting between Terri and Rudy at a restaurant. During his police interview, he stated that Terri wanted him to kill her abusive husband who was trying to take her daughter away. Rudy’s payment would be $10,000 that Kaine carried on him. (Kaine denies keeping that much money on his person.) He also alleged an affair. Although this may all be true, this man spoke zero English. Not a little English, ZERO English. He had to have a translator for every single word at his deposition. Terri doesn’t speak Spanish. It’s easy to see how communication between the two could be an issue. This story has holes in it, buuuuut Terri has an odd history of murder-for-hire. An ex-boyfriend of hers, Sean Rea, alleged Terri tried to have him killed in 1990. Kaine found enough truth in the Rudy Sanchez story to file for divorce, a restraining order, and custody. Baby K remained with Kaine, Terri eventually relinquished custody. In 2015 Terri’s then-roommate reported Terri stole his gun. She was also accused of domestic violence against an ex-boyfriend after she threatened him with a knife. Terri has assembled quite the collection of restraining orders against her over the years.
It’s certainly not hard to find the “Terri did it” theory with merit. She’s a pretty volatile individual. It’s just difficult to find a motive. She was the most involved parent, I even found one report that Terri was the only parent that knew which classroom was Kyron’s. People are capable of anything though, and I don’t assume to know her state of mind.
Kyron Wandered Off – This one actually isn’t as crazy as one might think. There was a student who reported seeing Kyron after Terri left. Kyron was going in the opposite direction of his classroom and said he was going to see a cool electrical project. This student gave a single interview to a news station and was then instructed not to speak. Not necessarily odd in open investigations. No one else reported seeing Kyron, so where was he going? Could he have wandered off somewhere in the school gotten lost or stuck somewhere, or accidentally killed and hidden? It’s possible. The school was closed for the summer a few days after the science fair, no one would have been around to notice any smells. If the body was near a HVAC out-vent, the smell of decomposition could have been directly vented out to open air. It wouldn’t be the first time something like it happened.
Not probable, but possible. With nothing to go on but his absence, can’t really say it’s impossible. There’s also the possibility he wandered off outside of school. His classroom was next to one of the exits, and he had a tendency to wander. The school is right next to a huge wooded area and the river. The area is so dense in both this area and Sauvie Island, that it made flyovers for searching pointless. Hundreds of people remain missing from the Oregon Wilderness areas.
A Stranger – This theory is based on the chaos that was the school during the science fair. Anyone could have walked into that school. Another angle is he was abducted out of opportunity as he was wandering off. I think the stranger abduction is reaching, but not impossible. There is also the possibility of Kyron wandering off into the parking lot and getting hit by a distracted driver, who in turn panicked and hid the body. I would think there would be evidence of this in the parking lot though.
Theories and speculation aside, there is a little boy who vanished almost nine years ago, and it’s time he gets to go home. The fact that a child can vanish without one single trace is baffling and terrifying. I’m not sure which theory I lean more towards, but I don’t really give much credence to the stranger theory. Kyron’s disappearance is a monumental rabbit hole that you could easily lose yourself in trying to fit the pieces together.
What do you think happened to Kyron?
To stay updated in Kyron’s case, you can follow the Facebook page Missing Kyron Horman.