The Disappearance of Kyron Horman

Kaine and Kyron (source: idahonews.com)

Kaine and Kyron (source: idahonews.com)

June 4 2010, a Friday, wasn’t just any day for 7-year-old Kyron Horman. It was the day of the annual science fair held at Skyline Elementary in Portland, Oregon, where he was in the second grade. Kyron was a science buff and was excited to attend the fair and find out about his schoolmates’ projects. He was especially proud of his own project on Red Eyed Tree Frogs.

Kyron’s dad, Kaine, chatted to Kyron that morning, making plans to go for ice cream after school. Kaine had to work so couldn’t make it to the fair, but Kyron’s stepmother, Terri, was going to take him. Kaine told Kyron he loved him and watched him leave with Terri. Kaine hasn’t seen his son since.

 

Kyron Horman

Kyron was born September 9, 2002, to Desiree Davidson and Kaine Horman, who worked as an engineer for Intel. Desiree and Kaine divorced before Kyron was born, but the two shared custody. In 2004, Desiree became seriously ill with kidney failure and had to spend a lot of time in hospital, meaning she was unable to adequately care for Kyron. At this point, Kaine took over full custody, but Desiree remained as active as she could in her son’s life.

In 2007, Kaine married Terri Moulton, an elementary school teacher from Roseburg, Oregon. They had been together since Kaine and Desiree divorced, and Terri raised Kyron as if he were her own son. Terri also had a teenage son, James, from her first marriage. Terri and Kaine had a daughter, Kiara, in December 2008. After giving birth to Kiara, Terri began to suffer from post-partum depression. It was around this time Kaine and Terri’s marriage began to break down. 

Desiree and Kyron (source: KGW)

Desiree and Kyron (source: KGW)

Kaine, Terri and Kyron; James and Kiara blurred out (source: ABC News)

Kaine, Terri and Kyron; James and Kiara blurred out (source: ABC News)

Desiree moved to Medford (though I’m not sure when) in southern Oregon, around a 4½ hour drive from Portland. This meant she was unable to see Kyron as often as she would have liked. She married Tony Young, a detective in Medford.

Events of June 4th 2010

Terri, along with baby Kiara, accompanied Kyron to the science fair as planned. At 8:15am, Gina Zimmerman, president of the school PTA, saw Kyron and Terri standing together next to his exhibit. Terri took pictures of Kyron with his project which she would later post on Facebook.

At 8:45am, Terri claimed she saw Kyron walking down the hall towards his classroom. This point in the case is critical. Many believe that Kyron did not go to his classroom, but rather left with Terri. However, there have been no reported sightings of the two together after 8:45am.

According to Terri, she then left the school and began to run errands, first going to a Fred Meyer grocery store around 7 miles away to buy medicine for Kiara who had an earache. She had a receipt showing she had bought something at 9:12am from the store, but they didn’t have the medicine she needed, so she headed to a different Fred Meyer. Surveillance footage showed her in both stores.

The picture of Kyron with his project taken by Terri at the Skyline Elementary science fair. (Source: The Oregonian)

The picture of Kyron with his project taken by Terri at the Skyline Elementary science fair. (Source: The Oregonian)

From 10:10am Terri claimed she spent about an hour and a half driving around rural roads of Northwest Multnomah County trying to get Kiara to sleep after she had given her the medicine. I couldn’t find precise details, but I doubt she was driving the whole time. I’m sure she spent some time just sitting in the car on her phone as Kiara slept. This set off alarm bells for investigators, as no one could confirm Terri’s whereabouts at this time.

Terri then headed to a 24-Hour Fitness gym, entering at 11:39am and leaving Kiara at the onsite day-care centre. She was there for about 40 minutes and drove home with Kiara at 12:20pm, arriving around 20 minutes later.

At 1:21pm, she uploaded the photos she took of Kyron at the science fair to Facebook, which included the photo associated with this case, showing Kyron smiling in front of his Tree Frog project, wearing the glasses he always wore, a black T-shirt with a logo from ‘CSI’ and dark cargo pants. 

Kaine arrived home at 2pm. Terri and Kaine walked with Kiara to Kyron’s bus stop at 3:30pm to pick him up as they usually did. However, the bus came and there was no sign of Kyron. The bus driver explained that Kyron had never got on the bus and called the school secretary to enquire as to his whereabouts. The secretary reported that he had been marked absent at 10am when classes began that day. From that point, the situation escalated quickly; Kaine and Terri rushed to the school. At 3:45pm, Kyron was reported missing.

Why didn’t the school call anybody when Kyron was marked as absent?

Usually when a child is marked absent, especially a child of elementary school age, the child’s parents are informed immediately. However, Kyron’s teacher thought that Terri had taken him to a doctor’s appointment. According to Terri, she had said to the teacher at the science fair that she was going to go look at other projects with Kyron. Terri claimed the teacher misunderstood her, thinking she had said she was taking Kyron and Kiara to a doctor’s appointment. Terri was baffled as to how the teacher could misunderstand her so greatly.

The doctor’s appointment claims are not completely unfounded, as Terri had let the school know that Kyron had an appointment, but the day of the appointment appears to have gotten confused. Terri claimed:

“The past 2 weeks he's been acting really weird. Staring off into space. Can't remember anything. Walks into the room and then back out, stopping to stare and then move on. The doc thinks that he is having mini seizures and I made an appt on Thursday for next Friday [June 11] to have him checked out."

On the other hand, multiple sources from the school told the police and media that Terri had informed the school that Kyron had a doctor’s appointment on June 4.  Also, it would have been strange for Terri to inform the school of an appointment Kyron had on June 11, because June 4 was the last day of school before summer break. There are a lot of misunderstandings in this case.

Given that Kyron hadn’t been seen for approximately 7 hours, once police were notified that he was missing, they responded quickly, immediately proceeding with organising a large-scale search.

The Search for Kyron – June 4th – June 14th

At 4:33pm, Portland police and officers Multnomah County Sheriff's Dept. began to arrive at Skyline Elementary and the Horman home. At 5:30pm a rapid broadcast message from Portland Public Schools was put out to families in the school district, alerting them with the message "Kyron Horman did not arrive at home today" to their phones.

The search involved 65 detectives, 60 trained searchers and even more volunteers and focussed on the school and the surrounding 2-mile radius.

At 10:40pm, officers reported every inch of Skyline School had been searched, including all crawl spaces, storage areas, classrooms and outbuildings. The Horman home was also searched. There was no sign of Kyron anywhere.

The search continued over the weekend, with independent professional search and rescue groups involved. During a news conference, authorities announced that the FBI and National Guard had joined the search effort.

All students and staff at Skyline Elementary were questioned by detectives. Terri ordered 1000 missing persons posters which were distributed throughout the area.

Tony Young, Desiree Young, Terri Horman and Kaine Horman at the first press conference on June 11 (source: The Oregonian)

Tony Young, Desiree Young, Terri Horman and Kaine Horman at the first press conference on June 11 (source: The Oregonian)

Suspicions were being raised by the public regarding the silence of Kyron’s entire family. This prompted an FBI spokeswoman to release the following statement: "Kyron’s family is not speaking to the media because they do not believe it's in the best interest of finding Kyron."

The public did not respond well to this; it only further increased their suspicions that the family were hiding something. Two days later, Kyron’s family gave into pressure from the public and media and held a press conference. Tony Young gave the following statement: "We miss you, we love you and we need you home now." 

Tony and Kaine thanked everyone in the community for their support and expressed their gratitude to everyone involved in the search for Kyron. Neither Terri nor Desiree spoke.

On Friday, June 11, the search for Kyron was extended to include Sauvie Island, about 6 miles from Skyline Elementary. Many view Sauvie Island as the red herring in this case. Terri’s phone apparently pinged off a cell tower that services Sauvie Island but also an extensive area around the island. But Terri was never on the island that day; the Sauvie Island Bridge has a surveillance camera which shows all vehicles accessing and leaving the island. The truck Terri was driving was not captured on the video on June 4, therefore I think it’s safe to say she was never there. Regardless, the island was searched extensively, with searchers on horseback, helicopters and divers. They found no sign of Kyron.

On Sunday, June 13, a news conference was held to announce that the massive search for Kyron had come to an end and the case was now a criminal investigation. The search, in which over 1300 people took part, was the largest in Oregon history. A reward of $25,000 was posted for anyone who could provide information as to Kyron’s whereabouts. By the end of July, the reward had doubled to £50,000.

 

Terri’s Secrets…

About 3 weeks after Kyron disappeared, Terri’s life began to spiral out of control.

In the days following Kyron’s disappearance, it was discovered that Terri had been texting and emailing friends about what had happened that day. In one message she wrote: ‘I left the school at 9 and he was seen with a man 'chaperone' and 2 girls after I left. There were no men on the chaperone list.’

This was viewed as somewhat inappropriate, given that while everyone else was entirely focussed on finding Kyron, Terri was texting and emailing friends. Bruce McCain, former captain of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said:

‘It's all about Terri, poor, poor Terri, and not a single concern about Kyron. She's already making alibis, talking about a chaperone and on and on about doctor's appointments.’ 

I’m not sure of the exact dates, but sometime between June 4 and June 25, Terri took two polygraph tests, both of which she failed. She complained of not being able to hear the questions properly. She was taken aback on finding out she failed, insisting that she had told the truth.  

On Saturday, June 26, Kaine moved out of the Horman home, taking baby Kiara with him. Terri made two phone calls that day, the first at 5:17pm, classified as a "threats" call, and the second at 11:39pm, classified as a "child custody" call.

In early July, the media began to report on shocking revelations which explained Kaine’s reasons for his actions detailed above. A landscaper named Rodolfo Sanchez, whom Terri had hired for yard work, came forward to police, telling them that he had met with Terri in a restaurant around 6 months before Kyron’s disappearance and she had offered him money to kill her husband.

According to Sanchez, Terri explained to him that Kaine was physically and emotionally abusive and she feared that he would take Kiara away. Apparently she went onto tell him that Kaine carried $10,000 on his person at all times (?!) and that he could kill him and make it look like a mugging. His reward would be the $10,000 Kaine supposedly carried. He also told authorities that he and Terri were having an affair.

This is what solidified Terri’s guilt for many, but honestly I think it sounds pretty ludicrous. Reddit user Smokin-Okie does a fantastic in-depth write-up on this case (see link in sources), which pokes many holes in Sanchez’s story. The biggest red flag is that Sanchez doesn’t speak fluent English and Terri doesn’t speak fluent Spanish. For his deposition, he needed a translator so that every question he was asked could be translated into Spanish, and all answers he provided translated into English. Another thing, if he and Terri were having an affair, why would she feel she had to ask him to a restaurant, a public place, with her baby daughter, to ask him to kill her husband? Wouldn’t she have done this when they were alone together?

So, here’s what happened on June 26: police organised a sting operation; Sanchez went to Terri’s door and demanded that she hand over $10,000 or he would go to the authorities about the murder-for-hire plot. Undercover officers watched nearby and Sanchez wore a wire. They ensured that Kaine was not home at the time. Terri (understandably) got scared and would not say anything to Sanchez. She ran inside the house and called 911, which was the ‘threats’ call mentioned earlier.

Despite the failed sting operation and lack of solid evidence, police still viewed Sanchez as credible and notified Kaine that Terri had attempted to have him killed, which prompted his abrupt move out of the home with Kiara. Later that night, Terri made the custody call, mentioned previously. On Monday June 28, Terri was served with a restraining order and petition for a dissolution of marriage. Kaine’s reasons for requesting the restraining order were:

"I believe respondent is involved in the disappearance of my son Kyron who has been missing since June 4. I also recently learned that respondent attempted to hire someone to murder me. The police have provided me with probable cause to believe the above two statements to be true."

Shortly after Terri was served with the restraining order and divorce petition, she began an affair with Kaine’s high school classmate, Michael Cook. Terri and Cook began exchanging text messages and pictures of a sexual in nature and spending time together.

On Monday July 12, courts documents were filed, in which Kaine accused Terri of violating the sealed restraining order by showing it to Cook and allowing him to take photos of it. He also claimed that Terri attempted to kidnap Kiara from the gym day care center while he was working out. He asked that Terri be held in contempt of court for these reasons.

On July 16, Terri agreed to move out of the house she had not long ago shared with Kaine, Kyron and Kiara. She went to stay with her parents and Kaine and Kiara moved back into the Portland home.

 

Further Police Enquiries

DeDe Spicher (source: katu.com)

DeDe Spicher (source: katu.com)

Police began to focus in on Terri’s friends, namely DeDe Spicher, to find out if they could provide further information about the day Kyron disappeared, or perhaps were even accomplices in Kyron’s disappearance. Bear in mind that while police were heavily investigating Terri, they never officially named her as a suspect.  

After Terri was served with the restraining order by Kaine, DeDe moved in with Terri for 11 days. In mid-July, police searched DeDe’s home and questioned her about her movements on the day Kyron disappeared. When questioned, DeDe informed police that she had been doing gardening work at a home in Northwest Portland the whole day. However, contrary to DeDe’s story, the homeowner came forward, informing police that DeDe had abruptly left at 11:30am and didn’t return until around 1pm. They had also tried to call DeDe during that time but got no answer. This raised police suspicion of DeDe and they were determined to find out her whereabouts during the 90 minutes she was unaccounted for.

On Monday July 26, DeDe was subpoenaed to testify before a Multnomah County grand jury investigating Kyron’s disappearance. The previous Friday, Kaine Horman and Desiree Young released a statement which showed their distrust of DeDe, saying: 

"[She] has been in close communication with Terri [and] has been providing Terri with support and advice that is not in the best interests of our son."

They described her as being uncooperative in the investigation, apparently "suggesting to others that may have information regarding Kyron's disappearance not to cooperate with the investigation."

DeDe’s lawyer, Chad Stavley, disputed the statements, saying that his client had ‘extremely cooperative’ with the investigation, allowing her home and car to be searched and complying with several hours of questioning from detectives.

DeDe went onto to do an interview with People magazine. During her interview, she expressed her belief in her Terri’s innocence:

"In all of these years [as her friend], I have not seen anything that would lead me to believe that she is capable or motivated in any way to do something like this."

She added:

"There's this horror that my friend is going through," she said. "If I thought for a second that she was capable of [foul play], I would not have been there. She would not have been my friend in the first place."

 

The Truck

On August 11, police held a press conference in which they appealed for information regarding Terri’s Ford F-250 pickup truck she was driving the day Kyron disappeared. They had two witnesses come forward saying they had seen another adult sitting in the truck.

The flier featuring photos of Terri’s truck, Terri and DeDe Spicher handed out at the August 11 press conference (source: people.com)

The flier featuring photos of Terri’s truck, Terri and DeDe Spicher handed out at the August 11 press conference (source: people.com)

District Attorney Rod Underhill at the August 11 press conference appealing to the public for any sightings of Terri’s white truck (source: the Oregonian)

District Attorney Rod Underhill at the August 11 press conference appealing to the public for any sightings of Terri’s white truck (source: the Oregonian)

Thinking perhaps this individual could have been DeDe, they handed out fliers with pictures of Terri, DeDe and the truck, asking that anyone with information please come forward. Investigators were specifically interested in sightings which took place between 9:45am and 1pm. Their interest in sightings were not limited to DeDe; they wanted descriptions of any other adults inside the truck or who appeared to be lingering near it.

On August 18, however, it was reported by Portland News Station Katu 2 that investigators had reason to believe it may not have been DeDe seen in the truck that day.

 

My Thoughts

I think someone took Kyron, and likely someone he trusted or someone who was able to gain his trust, for example, someone who told him they knew his mom or dad. Possibly they were able to lure him to the front of the school and into a vehicle.

In Terri’s initial interviews after Kyron’s disappearance she described Kyron as being ‘not a real adventurer’ and ‘a little timid’ and she couldn’t imagine that he would just wander off on his own. Terri is the only person who has ever even been considered a person of interest in Kyron’s disappearance. This is understandable, as she was the last person who reported seeing him the day he disappeared. I think when people first read about this case, it’s easy to focus on Terri and conclude she must be guilty.

However, the more I researched the case, the more I questioned these assumptions of Terri’s guilt. I’m going to outline some of the reasons, in my opinion, for and against Terri’s guilt below. None of this is based on anything other than my own research and analysis.

 

FOR

Terri was the last person to see Kyron that day, claiming that she saw him walking down the hall towards his classroom. No one else claimed to have seen him then, nor were there any reported sightings of him after this. It’s very strange that in a school full of adults and children (it would have been busier than usual, given the science fair) that no one backed up her claim.

According to Terri’s friends, she was upset with Kaine in the months leading up to Kyron’s disappearance because Kaine made her teenage son, James, move out of the house in February 2010. He was living with Terri’s parents in Roseburg at the time of Kyron’s disappearance. Kaine and James did not get along and would often argue, and Kaine felt that he was causing tension in the household, causing Terri unnecessary stress and not helping her depression. One theory, which I think seems far-fetched, is that Terri was so angry with Kaine that she wanted to get back at him by harming Kyron. This could be part of a combination of reasons for Terri harming Kyron, possibly combined with her depression, but I can’t imagine that it would be the soul reason for her wanting Kyron gone. 

Desiree Young has always believed that Terri was involved in her son’s disappearance, and is sure that Terri planned the entire thing. She has pled with Terri to ‘do the right thing’ and come forward. In June 2012, Desiree filed a civil lawsuit against Terri, with the purpose of proving that Terri had kidnapped her son and knew where he was. She sought $10 million in damages from Terri. A year later however, the lawsuit was dropped, Desiree explaining that she didn’t want it to interfere with the investigation. Desiree told the media that in the months leading up to her son’s disappearance:

“Kyron became increasingly unhappy about not spending time with me. He wanted to come and live with us. Several times he would just break down and just sob because he wanted to stay.”

 

AGAINST

The claim that no one saw Kyron walking down the hall can be turned in Terri’s favour also. Okay, no one but Terri saw Kyron in the hall, nor did anyone see Kyron with Terri after 8:45am. The science fair, which they left just before 8:45am, was the last reported sighting of the two together. It could be said that people did see them together afterwards but thought nothing of it because Terri and Kyron would naturally be seen together; but I don’t think this is it. Given the focus on Terri in this case, surely if anyone saw Kyron with her at any point from 8:45am onwards, they would have reported a sighting. But no one has.

Something I did find a little strange was Kaine’s complete turnaround in his opinion of Terri. In the few weeks after Kyron disappeared, he said of Terri:

‘I believe she’s committed, as the rest of our family is, to finding Kyron.’

It makes sense that he would be completely gobsmacked by the police telling him out of the blue that Terri had tried to have him killed, and I can understand why he moved out given their warning that he and Kiara could be in danger. However, at the same time, he appeared to become completely convinced that Terri was responsible for the disappearance of Kyron. This may have been due the polygraph tests, which Terri failed. I believe that Kaine’s reaction to finding out about the murder-for-hire plot was similar to the public’s reaction, as in, ‘if this woman is capable of hiring someone to murder her husband, what else is she capable of?!’ But as I discussed previously, I find the whole murder-for-hire plot story so fishy and honestly think it could be made up, and Rodolfo Sanchez did it for attention.

 

Conclusions

Kyron’s National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children poster with age progressed photo (14 years old) (source: NCMEC)

Kyron’s National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children poster with age progressed photo (14 years old) (source: NCMEC)

My feelings about this case are that everything that came out about things Terri did or didn’t do really muddied the waters and distracted from Kyron’s disappearance. I think the public just didn’t like her from the start, got bad vibes from her and she was an easy person to point the finger at.

This case has so much to it that I will admit it’s been hard at times trying to piece together information and come to my own conclusions. I’m undecided about Terri’s guilt. I don’t think she’s a person of great moral character, but I also don’t think this makes her a kidnapper/murderer. Maybe I’ll get a ton of stick for this; from what I can tell, pretty much everyone believes she is guilty.

I think what’s also really sad about this case is that Kyron didn’t always appear to be the main focus. In my research I definitely found the media to focus more on Terri’s personal life – her friends, her affairs, her scandals – than on the fact that a little boy is missing.

In June 2019, Kyron will have been missing for 9 years. Kaine and Desiree believe he is still alive, but of course with each passing day, staying hopeful becomes increasingly more difficult. The search for Kyron is still ongoing and investigators say the case is still open and active.  

I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult this is for everyone who loves Kyron, particularly Kaine and Desiree. I hope that one day, they get the answers they deserve.

“"I still expect to get that phone call that I am waiting for, you know the one, 'Desiree, this is the police, we have found Kyron,'" she wrote. "I want that phone call more than anything, I want to see the police standing on my doorstep waiting to tell me they've found him. I have dreamt of the day I get to hold onto Kyron again, and hug him until he says I can't breathe Momma. I have gone over that moment and planned it out in every detail, in my head. I have dreamt of it so many times that it feels real, until I realize it's a dream." - Desiree Young

Kyron and Desiree (source: Daily Mail)

Kyron and Desiree (source: Daily Mail)