Production Assistant Terrence Woods Jr (26) disappeared into the Idaho woods on October 5, 2018.
Terrence was working with Raw TV at the time on the first season of the Discovery Channel’s documentary Gold Rush: Dave Turin’s Lost Mine.
The show followed Dave Turin’s journey through disused mines throughout the western USA. At the time of the disappearance, they had been filming Penman Mine near the ghost town of Orogrande.
Terrence had worked extensively in television. He was from Maryland but lived in the UK for five years. He worked on some high-profile British shows including ITV’s The Voice UK and BBC One’s Saving Africa’s Elephants: Hugh and the Ivory War.
He travelled the world and seemed to be living the life.
“I met Terrence at an event which was part of the TV diversity scheme we were both on. He was always bubbly, passionate about his work and was on his way to a long successful career in TV,” recalled Rochelle Newman, a producer based in the UK.
Right before he went missing, Terrence posted a photo to his private insta – it showed a forest of fir trees with a river and he captioned it ‘Idaho’. You can view his private Instagram here.
Now here is where the unusual circumstances of this one come into play: Terrence had been meant to work as part of this crew of 12 people until mid November but he texted his parents a few days before his disappearance and said he would be home by October 10.
Right before he disappeared, he told two of his colleagues that he needed to use the bathroom.
A few moments later, the associate producer Simon Gee noticed that Terrence had dropped his radio on the floor.
The next thing he saw was Terrence running down a steep cliff that led to the forest, where he disappeared into the trees.
Many people who were at the scene tried to go down the cliff after him, but the terrain in Orogrande is rough and unpredictable. They returned with their clothes torn and covered in blood. Simon would later tell Terrence’s father that his son was running faster than he had ever seen anyone run before.
Some searchers thought he may have fallen or jumped from a cliff, but they then saw him at the bottom of the cliff, running.
I have found varying reports as to the time Terrence’s disappearance was reported to police – some articles say it was 5.30pm and others say 6.41pm. Maybe the report was made at 530 and the police showed up an hour later?
According to an update posted to the local Sheriff’s Facebook page, due to “the late hour of the report”, the search for Terrence did not begin until the following day. Search teams made up of dogs, ground searchers on foot and all-terrain vehicles – along with helicopter teams that could detect body heat – were sent out.
He did not stop by any of the nearby houses to call for help, the sheriff said. “It’s rough country and there are mine shafts up there. All kinds of things could have happened, but we searched for him,” he added.
I looked up the weather for a few days around the time Terrence went missing – the lows were around 3 degrees celsius or 37f, highs were around 13c or 55f.
The search was called off after 6 days.
Terrence’s family have said they are skeptical about the version of events told by the film crew. “You say my 97-pound son ran down the cliff without tripping, falling, hurting himself. You don’t have a trace of his blood or piece of his clothing, and he ran like a hare and ran so fast, nobody could catch him,” his father, Terrence Woods Sr, told Deadline.
Things were also strange after Terrence’s movements and state of mind started to be investigated. People started to question the treatment of employees by Raw TV.
The original Idaho County Sheriff’s Office report, seen by VICE, says that Terrence was “having a really hard time emotionally and had a mental breakdown earlier today”. When the 911 call was made, the caller – who was not part of the Raw TV crew – alleged that Terrence had been dealing with mental health issues throughout the shoot. However, when pushed to confirm these statements by Terrence’s family in the weeks following his disappearance, they were retracted. When the FOX 5 podcast Missing Pieces attempted to contact people present on the night he went missing, they were only able to speak to one of the locals.
Terrence’s family have spoken to the media and have said they believe that his behaviour was triggered by how he was treated while shooting the documentary.
“He was responsible,” his mother Valerie told VICE. “He wouldn’t run away without good reason, unless he was scared.” They believe that Terrence, who was the only Black crew member on the shoot in Idaho, felt intimidated or was mistreated by his colleagues. They say that he wanted to return to his home in Maryland.
Raw TV denies hiding any details surrounding Terrence’s disappearance. A spokesperson told VICE: “The police have closely examined the case, including Terrence’s correspondence with us and others, and found nothing to support the allegations you have put to us.” It also denies that Terrence was “subject to any mistreatment or intimidation by the crew”.
Almost two weeks after Terrence was reported missing, Raw TV released a statement regarding his disappearance. The statement read: “We can confirm that Terrence Woods, a member of one of our production teams, went missing on Friday, October 5, in Orogrande, Nez Perce National Forest, Idaho. All inquiries regarding the status of the search should be directed to the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office.”
Terrence’s family have said that Raw TV was not active in the search to find him. They allege that the production company has kept its contact with them and others who want answers about Terrence to a minimum.
”It’s baffling, I just don’t understand. I don’t know why it happened,” Terrence’s friend and former colleague, Gia Tabasco, told VICE. “Is it because he’s a junior member of staff? Is it because he’s Black?”
Some former employees also came forward after his disappearance to talk about the toxic workplace at Raw TV.
An ex-Raw TV employee told VICE that there is a “laddy” culture at the company. “There was a toxic undercurrent which made me feel very uncomfortable,” they said. “There were conversations where they would make disparaging comments about people they were looking to hire. It made me feel quite uncomfortable.”
Raw TV did provide a statement to Vice for the inde
In a statement provided to VICE, Raw TV said: “Terrence was a popular figure at Raw, he was a well-liked and valued member of the production team and his disappearance deeply affected us all. Terrence went missing in a remote, densely wooded and mountainous area in Idaho that was particularly challenging to search. From the outset, our location team was actively involved in the search for Terrence and we put a great deal of effort and resource into trying to locate him, which included flying his mother and father, along with two of Raw’s executives, to Idaho to help with the investigations being carried out by the Sheriff’s Office.
Terrence still remains missing as of May 2021.
His friends have shared their memories of him:
His former colleague Gia who we mentioned earlier, remembers his dedication to getting a good night’s sleep. “He’s so responsible. We used to go to the pub, and everyone would stay until at least 9PM but he would leave at around 7PM and I used to laugh at him and be like, ‘Why are you leaving now?’” she says. “He’s really to himself and selective of who he hung around with. If he likes you, he’d chill with you the whole day.”
“We kept getting conflicting information,” she says. “One minute [the police department are] saying the case is closed and the next, they’re saying it’s still active. I haven’t heard anything from them in over a year now.”
The Idaho Sheriff County’s office issued this statement to Vice about the case: “Terrence Woods is still missing, and his case is still open, but not active. We follow up on any new information, of which there has been very little, but do not have anyone actively searching for him. There’s no specific amount of time a missing person case remains active. It remains open as long as the person is missing, but is closed regarding man hours spent searching when we have done all we can do.”
Terrence Sr. says that each day since Terrence’s disappearance has been just as hard as the first. “I don’t want to watch no movies with someone running through the woods because I think of my son,” he says. “If I close my eyes, I see my son, crying and yelling. Some nights I hear my son saying, ‘Dad! Dad!’ I walk around the house and look at his room.”
He keeps photos of Terrence on his dresser, and a painting he did hangs above the closet. The Dodge Charger Hemi he bought for his son sits unused on the driveway. Every so often, Terrence Sr. runs the engine so that the battery won’t run down before his son, he hopes, returns.
WHAT HAPPENED TO TERRENCE?
- Mental break and died from an accident or exposure
- Crew members covering something up
You can discuss Terrence’s case at TrueCrimeSociety.com