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Criminal probe now the focus in young girl's case

By Phuong Le

SEATTLE (AP) -- Now that authorities believe they have found the body of a 6-year-old Washington girl who vanished from her home last weekend, they are focusing on a criminal investigation of the death.

A planned autopsy by a forensic pathologist and painstaking examination and mapping of the wooded spot where the body was found are among the tools they will use.

The body believed to be that of Jenise Wright was found Thursday in woods near the Bremerton-area mobile home park where she lived. The FBI's Specialty Search Dogs Unit discovered the body after volunteer canine search teams reported their dogs showed interest in a particular area, Kitsap County sheriff's Deputy Scott Wilson said.

The girl's family was notified.

Formal identification of the body was expected Friday, Wilson said.

In a statement, the sheriff's department said a coroner will make official confirmation of the identity, but "it appears that the body is that of Jenise."

"This is going to be a criminal investigation, there's no doubt about that," Wilson told a news briefing Thursday. Authorities are trying to track down anyone responsible, and they're "not ruling out anything," he said.

Determination of the manner and cause of death is pending, Wilson said, but "we suspect that she just did not go off by herself and fall into some bushes and die."

There have been no arrests in the case, authorities said.

A forensic pathologist under contract to the county will perform the autopsy, Wilson said.

Jenise was last seen when she went to bed Saturday night. Her parents waited a day before calling for help because they say the girl had wandered around the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park on her own in the past. She was outgoing and unafraid to talk to anyone, family said.

Wilson said in an interview Thursday that there were no signs of forced entry at the girl's home and no indication that she was taken from her room.

An FBI evidence research team has finished checking the area where the body was found, and a forensic mapping team from the Washington State Patrol's criminal investigation division planned to map the spot, Wilson said Thursday evening.

The girl's parents are cooperating with authorities, he said.

More than 350 people, including officers from 15 law enforcement agencies, searched for Jenise, going door to door at Steele Creek Mobile Home Park on the west side of Puget Sound, across from Seattle.

They also pulled surveillance video from nearby businesses and checked in with sex offenders in the county.

After the search began, state child welfare workers removed two other children, an 8-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl, from the home.

Jenise Wright's father, James Wright, was charged more than a decade ago with molesting two girls, ages 8 and 15, court records show.

He eventually 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 return calls.

A judge in Whatcom County Superior Court sentenced Wright to a year in jail but suspended the entire jail term on the condition that he follow certain conditions, including paying fees.

Wilson said at a news briefing Wednesday that authorities were aware of the past charge against the father, but that officers were focused on finding the girl.

Search For Missing 6-Year-Old Washington Girl Enters Third Day

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milliebsp August 06 2014 at 6:35 PM

This whole thing is VERY fishy to me.

Her parents noticed she was missing in the morning but did not report it until night because "she would often go out wandering alone".

Seriously? She's 6 yrs old!!! What responsible parent would be okay with that???

Why is Casey Anthony coming to mind??

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20 replies
briock August 07 2014 at 1:59 AM

Her parents need life in prison. They noticed her missing Sunday morning but did not report her missing until Sunday night with the ridiculous excuse that she "wanders off" and the property has a fence. Really? Wow. Are these parents for real? You wake up in the morning and your 6 year old is missing, and you just go "Oh well, she'll be back at some point" then wait 10-12 hours before you report her missing? You need to be shot.

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20 replies
buddwhyzr August 06 2014 at 3:05 PM

My heart goes out to the little girl, and crosshairs go out to the parents.

Flag Reply +77 rate up
4 replies
c1g2w3 August 07 2014 at 10:55 AM

Yes making a child molester pay fees instead of doing time will surly cure him of his infectious disease. He probably molested this poor girl or shares her with a buddy (and that is why he wasn't concerned about her missing) Sick SOB should be mutilated and disposed .

Flag Reply +63 rate up
8 replies
I love Snickers August 07 2014 at 1:04 AM

There is several big holes in this case that aren't being mentioned in the article. 1) The girl has only been missing for a day, with supposedly no clues, BUT the FBI is on the case??? They don't usually get involved in just any old missing child case. 2) The film showed the mother being escorted away by the FBI. Hmmmm. 3) Children's Services has come in and removed the siblings "for no reason" - - - I don't think so.
And these parents are either guilty or just stupid. This little six-year-old is known all around the area, everyone knows how cute and how friendly she is, how she often wonders all around the area . . . . If I was looking for a little pretty sweet girl to kidnap, rape, and kill, she'd be almost too easy a target, too much of a temptation. And with the parent's lack of interest someone could be 3-4 states away with her before the parents bothered to call the police.

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5 replies
Rob Jones August 07 2014 at 12:23 PM

"Pervious" molestation charge? Is that as in "perverted" or "previous"?

Flag Reply +40 rate up
6 replies
aces August 07 2014 at 2:49 AM

the dad said she goes out alot and she is very independent lol these fn crazy people killed this beautiful kid for sure; like judge judy says if no make sense its a lie and these weirdos are lyin

Flag Reply +39 rate up
4 replies
aces August 07 2014 at 2:52 AM

i play poker and read people pretty well, and i would do all in on these weirdos are fn liars.............

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2 replies
c1g2w3 aces August 07 2014 at 10:57 AM

I vote for you

Flag Reply +2 rate up
zygi & paris aces August 07 2014 at 3:16 PM

You nailed it. Even if you didn't play poker, this is an easy read. This trailer trash did something to harm this baby. How could a mother trust a man, even if he is her father, that already committed molestation crimes before.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
reakemble zygi & paris August 07 2014 at 7:56 PM

For some reason that is unfathomable to most people, many women choose a man over their own children. Think Susan a Smith who drove her van into a lake and watched her two babies cry for help as it went under. All because she was afraid she would lose the man she was dating because he didn't want kids. SICK. SICK. SICK

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IZZYCT August 07 2014 at 12:25 PM

I have to agree.........something is not right about this story.

Flag Reply +26 rate up
Tim August 07 2014 at 6:10 PM

I am having great difficulty understanding this. Why the delay in reporting the child missing? Both of the parents in my mind are red flagged. When my son went to bed, both my wife and I would look in on him many times before we turned in. If I woke in the middle of the night, I would look in on him. I just don't get it. How do you not become concerned first thing in the A.M.? All I can say is WTF.

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2 replies
bambi4318.barbara Tim August 07 2014 at 8:53 PM

Well said.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
siketrise Tim August 08 2014 at 12:34 AM

Secure windows and doors with a key in/out security door would have protected the child from wondering around the trailer park. The parents were and are neglectful. And, I am certain Children Services was involved.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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