CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — WCNC Charlotte’s Billie Jean Shaw spoke to the father of accused murderer, 26-year-old Tyler Terry.
Terry's father said he learned of the manhunt and murder charges his son was facing when FBI and SLED agents came to his Charleston, South Carolina, home to question him about his son.
“I was paralyzed, I couldn’t believe it,” Donnie Terry said.
Donnie Terry, a retired disabled army veteran said he and his wife split when their three children including his son Tyler Terry was young. He said Tyler spent most of his childhood in Ohio.
When Tyler was 15 years old he moved to Charleston with his dad.
“I think they put in him special education too while he was in classes,” Donnie Terry said.“ The little bus would come to pick him up for school in front of the house, he didn’t like to ride that bus because the kids picked on him so he eventually stopped going to school."
After skipping school, Donnie Terry said he noticed something was off about his son’s behavior. He said one night Tyler woke him up and told him some homes in the neighborhood were on fire. Around 30 to 40 people had to escape the burning homes. Donnie Terry said a week later, Tyler confessed to police he set the homes on fire.
“He wrote like a three to four-page confession and in one part it said I burned down the houses hahaha," Donnie Terry said. Donnie Terry said he turned to Tyler, looked him in his face and asked did he really do it, “he said yeah dad I did it all by myself and I didn’t have no help.”
Tyler Terry spent four years in the juvenile detention center in Turbeville, South Carolina. His dad said Tyler Terry and the counselors convinced him Tyler had changed for the better so he brought him back home.
Donnie said it was all an act.
“I had to evict him,” Donnie said. “He was violent, knocking holes into walls not listening. So I had to evict him out of here.”
Donnie Terry said Tyler was about 20-years-old and move to Columbia with one of his mom’s family members. During that time, Donnie said Tyler had a daughter who is now three years old.
Donnie Terry said he did not stay in constant contact with Tyler and was surprised when WCNC Charlotte’s Billie Jean Shaw informed him investigators said Tyler was homeless and lived in the woods for months at a time.
“Girl that’s news to me,” Donnie Terry said in a shocking matter. “I had no idea my son was living that way.”
Donnie Terry said the last time he spoke to his son was in January.
“Every couple of months he’ll call me and ask for money. I'll ask him how he’s doing but you know they lie and not going to tell you what’s really going on,” Donnie said. Donnie said Tyler told him he was working at KFC and living with friends.
“He didn’t have a consistent cell phone number,” Donnie said. “He would always call me through Wi-Fi from someone’s else phone.”
After leading more than 300 hundred officers on a week-long manhunt In Chester County, Tyler was arrested Monday morning in the woods near Highway 9 in Richburg.
His dad said he’s not making any excuses for his son, but said something is just not right with him.
“My son needs help," Donnie Terry said.
Donnie said the last person connected to their family to talk to Tyler Terry was the mother of Tyler’s child. She told family members she spoke to Tyler two days before he led investigators on a manhunt.
“She told Tyler’s mother the last thing Tyler said was that he was going to come to pick up his daughter,” Donnie said.