Tera Lynn Smith

Tera, circa 1998; Age-progression at age 23 (circa 2005); Troy Zink, circa 1998

  • Missing Since 08/22/1998
  • Missing From Redding, California
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 01/06/1982 (42)
  • Age 16 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'7, 135 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A white sports top, shorts and multi-colored sneakers.
  • Associated Vehicle(s) Full-size dark blue 1976 Ford pickup truck with mag wheels and a yellow tailgate
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Blonde hair, hazel eyes. Tera's ears are pierced. She has a scar on her left calf. Her first name may be spelled "Terra."

Details of Disappearance

Tera was last seen leaving her family's residence on Tarcy Way in rural Redding, California to go for a jog between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. on August 22, 1998.

She wasn't allowed to leave the house at night on her own and her sister tried to stop her, but Tera said she would be back before their parents got home. She never returned home and has not been seen again.

The last person to possibly see Tera was her former Taekwondo instructor and boyfriend, Troy Zink. A photo of Zink is posted with this case summary. He told authorities that Tera called him during the evening hours of August 22 and asked him to meet her near her home at 6:30 p.m.

Zink claimed that Tera requested $2,000 from him during the meeting, but wouldn't say what it was for. He said he refused to give her the money and she became angry. She asked him to drop her off at the intersection of Old Alturas Road and Old Oregon Trail in Redding. He stated that he drove to Hang Glider Hill by himself to pray afterwards and returned to his house at approximately 11:30 p.m.

Zink was 29 years old and married with a young son at the time of his sexual relationship with Tera. He pleaded guilty to a spousal rape charge in 1993 and spent a year in jail. He has always denied he was involved with Tera's disappearance. He said he had received a letter from her, which allegedly stated she was planning to leave her home.

Tera's family has maintained that she was a typical teenager who had some problems with her life, but nothing that would have led her to run away. Prior to her disappearance, she had written in her journal that she planned to end her relationship with Zink. Her parents believe that Tera contacted Zink and tried to end the affair on the day she was last seen, as opposed to Zink's version of events.

After his initial police interview, Zink has refused to cooperate any further with authorities regarding Tera's case. After her disappearance, he served a four-year prison sentence for weapons charges. As a convicted felon, he wasn't allowed to own firearms, but when police investigating Tera's disappearance searched his Taekwondo studio, they found some old sporting rifles and shotguns in the attic. Zink now lives in Arizona and goes by the first name Charles.

There was an unconfirmed sighting of Tera on the evening of her disappearance in Redding. A witness told investigators that someone matching Tera's description was spotted inside a full-size dark blue 1976 Ford pickup truck with mag wheels and a yellow tailgate. The girl was accompanied by an unidentified Caucasian male. It has not been established if this sighting is related to Tera's case.

Tera was a junior at Central Valley High School at the time of her disappearance. She has three siblings. Her parents are still living in Redding. No arrests have been made in connection with her disappearance and her case remains unsolved.

Updated 7 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated September 3, 2023; details of disappearance updated.