Update: Police Say Body Found is Likely That of Missing Washington Girl
By Aaron Pero
Thu Aug 7th, 2014 12:39pm America/Los_Angeles
SEATTLE (AP) – Washington authorities say a body found near a mobile home park appears to be that of missing 6-year-old Jenise Wright, who disappeared from her home over the weekend.
The body was found before noon Thursday in a forested area. The girl’s parents have been notified.
In a statement, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department said a coroner will make official confirmation of the identity, but “it appears that the body is that of Jenise.”
Authorities said there have been no arrests in the case.
The girl was last seen when she went to bed Saturday night at her home near Bremerton, on the west side of Puget Sound across from Seattle.
Authorities in Kitsap County said the remains have not been identified and an autopsy will determine the manner and cause of death. Earl Smith, incident commander for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s department, said Jenise Wright’s family had been notified.
Wright was last seen when she went to bed Saturday night at her home near Bremerton. Bremerton is on the west side of Puget Sound, across from Seattle.
Smith said the area where the body was discovered was being processed but provided few other details, saying more information would be available at an afternoon briefing.
Wright’s family said they didn’t call for help until Sunday night because the child had left the home on previous occasions and wandered around the neighborhood, authorities have said. They felt it was relatively safe because the mobile home park is fenced.
The parents took FBI lie-detector tests Monday night, but the results have not been disclosed. Their home was also searched twice by different sets of authorities, Wilson said Wednesday.
Court records show the father, James Wright was charged more than a decade ago with molesting two girls, ages 8 and 15. He pleaded guilty in Whatcom County Superior Court in December 2001 to a misdemeanor assault charge related to the older girl. It was not immediately clear why the molestation charges were dropped. Prosecutors there did not immediately return a call.
“That has nothing to do with this investigation right now,” Kitsap County sheriff’s Deputy Scott Wilson said at a news briefing Wednesday.
Of the parents, he said at the time: “I can’t emphasize enough how cooperative they both have been with law enforcement authorities in the course of this investigation.”
A listed number for James Wright could not be found. The Bellingham defense attorney who represented him during the previous charges did not immediately return a call or email.
Dozens of officers from more than 15 law enforcement agencies including the FBI were involved in the search. Officers have been going door to door at the mobile home park. They were also pulling surveillance video from nearby businesses and checking in with sex offenders in the county.
According to court records, the girl’s father was charged with first-degree child molestation in February 2000, accused of molesting an 8-year-old girl following a New Year’s Eve celebration. The girl told a detective and case worker that he inappropriately touched her, according to court documents.
More than a year later, in June 2001, the charges were amended to include third-degree child molestation after a 15-year-old girl who was babysitting the girl during New Year’s Eve 2000 said that Wright touched her breasts and put his hands down her pants, according to court documents.
A judge in Whatcom County Superior Court sentenced Wright to a year in jail but suspended the entire jail time provided he followed certain conditions, including paying fees.
(Copyright 2014, KRON 4 and the Associated Press, All rights reserved.)