Jenise Wright disappeared late Saturday night on August 2nd. Due to the fact that she had wandered off to the nearby park by herself before, her parents didn’t file her missing person’s report until the following day. After extensive searching by the FBI using search dogs and the Kitsap County police, A body fitting the description of Wright was reported found Thursday. She was six years old.
The coroner performed an autopsy Friday to identity the body today, even though the police have little doubt that the remains do belong to the missing girl. Besides confirming the identity, the autopsy will help the police determine the cause of how the little girl died. Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff Office said that Wright’s death will be looked into as criminal investigation. Wright’s case has been opened, and the task of identifying the suspect has begun.
Wright’s disappearance caught the immediate attention of the police and the FBI team in Seattle’s field office last Wednesday. Sightings that could have been Wright were reported, but never confirmed. It was not until Thursday that Ayn Dietrich of the FBI reported that a body had been found, but she did not confirm the identify as Wright or say how the girl died. After the Kitsap County medical examiner did tests on the body, a news conference at 4:30 p.m. Friday confirmed that the remains belonged to six-year-old Jenise Wright.
As more details unfolded, the Sheriff’s Office reported that Wright’s body had been found near the mobile home park where she had disappeared, in a forested area. She had lived in the mobile home with her parents and six siblings on the Kitsap Peninsula in the Puget Sound area, and was last seen in her bed Saturday night at home. It wasn’t unusual for Wright to wander off by herself, visiting with other friends and family in her neighborhood or going to the park, and she had always been good about checking in regularly to let everyone know where she was. However, when that didn’t happen, and she didn’t show up for dinner the following night, concern among her family and friends erupted. When no one saw her the following day, her family called in and reported her as missing.
Both of Wright’s parents have cooperated with the investigation, thus far. Police are currently looking into any court records surrounding the members of Wright’s family members. In their exploration, one turned up on Wright’s father, James. His record shows that, in 2000, he was accused of first-degree child molesting for inappropriately touching a minor. The charges, however, had later been dropped to one of assault and his alleged act described as inappropriate touching.
Six months later, James Wright was charged again with third-degree child molestation. According to the reports, a girl gave alleged account of James touching her breasts and putting his hands down her pants. James plead guilty to this in December 2001 and was sentenced to a year in jail, but the judge suspended the jail time under specific conditions.
Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office reported that authorities had known of Wright’s father having past criminal history, but he assured that this record is not suspected as being connected in the little girl’s disappearance and death. Nevertheless, as a precaution to these findings, child-welfare workers have removed two unnamed children from the Wright home.
The investigation of the six-year-old girl is still underway, and a lot is waiting on the full autopsy reports of the coroners. No arrests have been made, and the search for potential suspects continues. Since the body of Jenise Wright was found, police have searched her home several times wearing full-body, protective hazmat suits. Investigators assigned to the girl’s case have asked residents within the neighborhood to call with any information or notice of unusual activity around the mobile home area. On a similar note, the FBI has requested calls with any information known about Jenise Wright’s disappearance via their tip line.
By Rachel Roddy