Brandy Terry, the sister of the man found dead in Angels Creek on Tuesday, said her brother returned from tree cleanup in the fire-gutted town of Paradise just two weeks ago to be with his seven-year-old son.
“He’s been going there since last year after the fire. He loved it, even though he said it was devastating,” Brandy Terry said. “It’s so sad, it just makes him miss his family and be grateful for things he’s got.”
Kevin Raggio, Calaveras County Coroner, identified the man as Randy Terry, 40, a resident of Murphys.
Brandy Terry, 37, also a resident of Murphys, said Randy was a single father who took up the job in Paradise — shearing trees hundreds of feet up while on top of a crane — to provide for his son, Randy Terry Jr.
“He would go to work, he would come home. It was always about him and his son,” said Randy Terry’s mother, Velda Criswell, 57. “He told me, ‘mom, I have to build something for my son.”
Randy Terry was born in Modesto and moved to Murphys around the time his son was born, Brandy Terry said. It would have been 41 on May 16.
She said he was a recovering addict who stayed clean for years by finding steady work wherever he could, either trimming trees locally or hundreds of miles away.
“He’s known the no-goods, the low-goods and the good-goods,” she said. “He turned his life around the past years.”
The family said they were apprehensive of the pending autopsy results, which may be released as early as Friday. They said it was unlike Randy Terry to disappear (he was last seen by his sister on April 26 and was seen leaving his home in Murphys on a surveillance camera at 6:15 a.m. the next day) before he appeared, submerged in the approximately one-and-a-half foot water of Angels Creek, lodged under a log.
“Everything is too odd about it all,” Brandy Terry said.
Stark said foul play had not been ruled out.
Raggio said autopsy results were pending and a cause of death was undetermined. He did not observe any visible wounds on the body, he said.
Sgt. Greg Stark with the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office said Randy Terry was reported missing on April 29.
Brandy Terry said she watched the surveillance footage at her brother’s house while he was still missing. In the video, he walks outside his house with his cell phone and looks up with some apparent recognition, she said.
He never, to her knowledge, returned back to the home. He left the door open, his keys in his truck, and his dogs loose and barking in the house and front yard.
“It’s just not like him,” Brandy Terry said.
The family said they may seek an alternative forensic analysis of the body following the autopsy report if they did not believe the investigation into Randy Terry’s death to be thorough.
Brandy Terry said her brother’s body was found by his girlfriend’s father. By the time she arrived at the scene with her son, she said law enforcement and a crowd had already gathered.
The 800 block of Main Street in Murphys about 11:10 a.m., just outside the main commercial thoroughfare of town and near the intersection of French Gulch Road with Murphys Grade Road.
Brandy Terry said her brother lived less than a mile away in Murphys from where he was found.