The body of 6-year-old Jenise Wright, who has been missing since Sunday, was found in a wooded area near the mobile home park in East Bremerton, Washington, where she lived. Although cause of death and other autopsy findings have not been released, Jenise’s death is not believed to be accidental. As local Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy Scott Wilson said, “This is going to be a criminal investigation, there’s no doubt about that. We suspect that she just did not go off by herself and fall into some bushes and die.”
Jenise was last seen alive Saturday night, when she went to bed. Her parents assumed Jenise was playing when she wasn’t found at home Sunday morning, telling local police that Jenise was allowed to walk through the mobile home park on her own and that she had wandered off before. Jenise’s parents didn’t report her as missing until Sunday night, when she failed to appear home after not being seen by anyone all day.
The last person to see Jenise Wright alive was 14-year-old Mary Pelnar, who said the two of them were together Saturday night. “I was hanging out with her all day Friday and Saturday and I woke up and didn’t see her at all Sunday,” Mary said.
As late as 10 am Thursday morning, police and FBI were still hoping to find Jenise alive. Her disappearance struck the tight-knit community where she lived hard, and tips have poured in since her disappearance was reported. After her remains were found, police have gone door-to-door in her mobile home park, asking neighbors for voluntary DNA samples.
Sheriff’s Deputy Wilson stressed the fact that Jenise’s parents have been cooperative, saying on Wednesday that he “can’t emphasize enough how cooperative they both have been with law enforcement authorities in the course of this investigation.”
Cooperative or not, however, Child Protective Services pulled the two remaining Wright children, ages 8 and 12, from the Wright’s home on Monday. According to Wilson, “Sheriff detectives developed enough probable cause that they felt that it would warrant the safety of the children to be removed from the house at this time but I can’t go into details for why.”
Furthermore, court records show that Jenise’s father, James Wright, was charged with molesting two girls, ages 8 and 15. The charges happened more than a decade ago. As for the initial case, involving the 8-year-old, James Wright was charged with first-degree child molestation, after the girl reported that he had touched her inappropriately during a New Year’s Eve celebration. Wright was sentenced to a year in jail in that case, but the judge suspended the entire jail time in return for Wright following certain conditions, including paying a fee.
The charges were later amended to include third-degree child molestation, when it came to light that the 15-year-old girl who was babysitting the 8-year-old girl during the New Year’s Eve celebration had also been touched inappropriately by Wright. According to court documents, the girl said that Wright had touched her breasts and put his hands down her pants. Wright pleaded guilty in 2001 to a misdemeanor assault charge in the case involving the older girl.
Jenise’s 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.
[Image via Q13 Fox News]