When 7-year-old Kyron Horman went missing five years ago, his stepmother, Terri, immediately came under suspicion. Now, Terri Horman is breaking her silence, telling ABC News that her life has been a living nightmare.
Horman had dropped her stepson off at Skyline Elementary School in Portland, Ore., on June 4, 2010. The second-grader disappeared after his stepmother attended a school science fair where he had displayed a project on red tree frogs.
The boy has never been found.
Horman has since been the focus of accusations and she told ABC News’ Juju Chang that she wants to set the record straight.
When Chang asked her whether she had anything to do Kyron’s disappearance, Horman replied: “No, none. And...I don’t resent you asking that question, but it hurts my heart to even be asked.”
When Kyron didn’t come home on the school bus, it was Horman who called the school in a panic.
“I'm talking to the secretary and she says, ‘He's not here.’ And your heart just sinks. I mean, you're just like ‘How could he not be there?’” she said.
The boy’s disappearance sparked the biggest manhunt in Oregon’s history. Kyron’s parents and stepparents presented a united front until Horman failed two lie detector tests, she said.
“They threw me under the bus,” she said.
Asked whether she lied to the police at any time during the investigation of Kyron’s disappearance, Horman said she did not.
“I think that they already had settled on me to be their patsy. And so, when they started coming after me and being disrespectful and talking down to me, I started coming back, a little bit of the Irish started coming out,” she said. “And I just started telling them, basically, what I thought of them. You know, ‘You're wasting your time on me. You know, what are you doing to find my son?’”
But Desiree Young, Kyron’s biological mother, presents a different story.
“I say she did this and I am confident she did this. No doubt I will search for him until the end of time,” Young said, referring to her belief that Horman played a role in the disappearance of Kyron.
Young had filed a $10 million civil lawsuit seeking to compel Horman to reveal Kyron’s whereabouts. Young later dropped the suit, saying she didn’t want to interfere with the police investigation.
Horman has been painted as a villain in the press, partly because of the allegations in divorce papers that claim she tried to hire someone to murder her husband Kaine, Kyron’s father.
Horman denied any such plot -- again something she was never charged with. She says the supposed hitman later told authorities in a deposition that there was no plot.
And yet, that accusation was the basis for which her daughter was taken from her.
Kaine Horman got a restraining order against Terri and filed for divorce from her just 24 days after his son disappeared. He now has custody of their daughter Kiara, now 7.
“I miss every moment with you. I can't get it back. I'm so sorry. It's devastating. There's a hole, you can't fill it,” Terri Horman said, referring to Kiara.
Terri Horman has never been charged with a crime. She said law enforcement rushed to judgment and even threatened her.
“And they without a doubt told me that ‘We're going to...make your life hell if you don't tell us what we want to know. We're going to destroy you.’ And they sure did,” she said.
Horman, a former teacher, said she can’t get a job. And while she said her life has been forever changed, she hasn’t lost hope.
“Either you're a very convincing liar or a grave injustice has been befallen you,” Chang told her.
“I'd go with the latter,” Horman replied. “People can say what they want about me. I really don't care. My purpose is to find my son, to get my daughter back, to get my life back in order. In that order.”