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Father Is Desperately Searching For Answers Four Years After Son Disappeared From Remote Reality TV Set
Terrence Woods Jr. had been working on the remote Idaho set for the reality show "Gold Rush" when the production company said he dropped his radio, ran down and steep hill and into the woods.
It’s been four years since Terrence Woods Jr. mysteriously disappeared into the Idaho wilderness, where he was working in production on the set of a reality television show.
In the years that have followed, there has been no sign of the then-27-year-old Maryland native who has been described as a “happy-go-lucky” person and caring friend, and who loved to travel the world and spend time with his family.
“It’s been like a cancer, eating me from the inside,” his father Terrence Woods Sr. told Oxygen.com of his son's agonizing disappearance.
Woods Jr. had been working with the production company Raw TV to film the Discovery show “Gold Rush” when authorities say he disappeared on Oct. 5, 2018.
Holly Palin, a spokesperson for Raw, told Oxygen.com that multiple witnesses, including independent local contractors and Raw staff members, reported that Woods Jr. “dropped his radio then spontaneously ran down a steep hill and into the Idaho woods.”
“Terrence went missing in a remote, densely wooded and mountainous area in Idaho that was particularly challenging to search,” Raw said in a statement from the company. “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.”
Woods Sr. said he heard his son told someone he had to go to the bathroom shortly before running into the Nez Perce National Forest in Orogrande, Idaho.
He said he was told by the production company that his son had an “anxiety attack” earlier that morning on the set and had to be detained—although he later collected himself and resumed his day. At one point, Woods Sr. said he was told his son also tried to grab a flying drone with his bare hands.
But the account of his son’s last moments before vanishing have never sat right with Woods Sr., who believes that his son may have been the victim of foul play.
“I think my son saw something, heard something or someone did something and he wanted to get out of there,” Woods Sr. said.
When asked about his behavior on the set, Palin told Oxygen.com that Woods Jr. had been “offered support” as he learned new skills on the job—which he had started just five days earlier on Sept. 30.
“The shoot had run without any issues and Terrence appeared excited to be back with Raw and had also discussed working with Raw again in the future on other projects,” she said. “As a junior member of the team, he was new to some tasks; he was offered support, was eager to learn, and continued to improve his skills.”
While Palin did not specifically mention any incident that morning, a 911 call log reporting the disappearance did reference the alleged “mental breakdown” that Woods Jr. had earlier that day.
“Terrence has been having a really hard time emotionally and had a mental breakdown earlier today,” read the log transcript, according to previous reporting by Deadline.
Before his disappearance, Woods Jr. had lived in the UK for five years where he worked on British television shows like “The Voice UK” and “Saving Africa’s Elephants: Hugh and the Ivory War,” according to the news outlet.
Friend Rochelle Newman told Oxygen.com that she met Woods Jr. at a networking event for Pact, a TV diversity initiative both were working on at the time.
She described Woods Jr. as a “quiet, kind and very caring person” who had no known history of anxiety or mental health problems.
“He enjoyed meeting new people and had friends from all around the world because of his travels,” she said.
Cassandra Hall-Alexander also spoke with Deadline about her friend in 2020 and said during all the time she had worked with him, she never noticed him having any mental health issues.
“It doesn’t make sense when I hear people say that he struggled with his mental health or that he didn’t live up to expectations,” she said. “I spent six months on a TV production course with him and he always exceeded expectations and never ever showed signs of having any mental health problems.”
Woods Sr. told Oxygen.com that his son had only been in Idaho for just 24 hours and had spent the previous days on location in Montana. He’s tried to get surveillance footage to confirm that his son made it to Idaho with the crew, but said has never been given any proof by authorities. He is also still trying to find someone who could speak to his son’s mental state in the days leading up to the disappearance.
According to his account, by the time Woods Sr. arrived in Idaho after the disappearance, most of the crew who had been with his son were already gone and he was only able to talk to one person.
“Terrence was the youngest person and the only person of color with the crew. Raw TV has offered slim to any help in trying to find him,” he wrote this month in a message to the media provided to Oxygen.com. “Up to this day, they have not even given us the names of the 9 out of 10 people he was with.”
He also questioned why those around him didn’t do more to help him if he did, in fact, have an anxiety attack that morning.
“If all this took place first thing in the morning, in the afternoon or whatever, why didn’t anyone call for professional medical assistance?” Woods Sr. said.
Although some of what happened that day remains a mystery, there were signs that Woods Jr. was unsettled on the set.
The day of his disappearance Palin said Woods Jr. requested to leave the production on October 10 because his mother was “unwell.”
“We were sympathetic to his situation and made the necessary arrangements for him to leave on 10th October," she said via email.
Woods Sr. said his son had told the production company that his mother had to have surgery—but his mother had no surgery scheduled. Woods Sr. believes his son must have been desperate to get away from the set for some reason.
“If he told them his mother was having a so-called emergency surgery, he wanted to leave,” he said.
While questions continue to swirl for the family, Palin adamantly denied the allegation that Woods Jr. had been the victim of foul play.
“The suggestion that Raw had anything to do with Terrence’s disappearance is inaccurate and unfounded. The thorough police investigation has found no evidence to support any claims of wrongdoing by Raw,” she said.
Former Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings, who was responsible for the investigation, is now retired, but told Deadline in 2020 that the investigation revealed no evidence to support “speculative” suggestion of foul play.
“They wanted to believe that the movie company was guilty of something and we couldn’t determine that the movie company was guilty of anything,” he said.
Giddings also said the investigation revealed that while there were “questions about some of (Wood Jr.’s) behaviors” they were not “blown up as big” as what the family had described.
“We determined that he wasn’t happy there and there were several people who weren’t happy with him,” Giddings told the news outlet.
In a statement to Oxygen.com, current Sheriff Doug Ulmer described Woods Jr.’s disappearance as an “open case” but said the department has been challenged by a lack of resources and the challenging terrain.
“Our county is approximately 8500 square miles (bigger than some states) with approximately 16,000 people,” he said. “The area he went missing in is rugged and secluded with dirt roads and no cell service. There was an extensive search when he went missing and no real leads.”
Although he said there are no “new leads” at this time, Ulmer said he is hopeful that the start of hunting season will mean that more people will be once again scouring the area.
“You always hope for something to turn up in these cases to give the family some closure,” he said.
Without clear answers about what happened to his son, Woods Sr. said he has no closure and has not been able to heal.
“I want justice, I want to find the truth out, whatever happened to him, that’s what I need to know,” he said. “I’m going to find the truth out one way or another.”