Tuesday, October 21, 2014


This undated photo provided by the FBI shows Jenise Paulette Wright. More than 100 officers from 10 law enforcement agencies are involved in the search for 6-year-old Jenise, who disappeared from her Washington state home over the weekend, sheriff's officials said Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/FBI) (Uncredited)

Investigators work at the home of Jenise Wright in the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park in East Bremerton, Wash., on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. Law enforcement officers searching for 6-year-old Jenise Wright said Thursday they found a child's body in the vicinity of the mobile home park where the girl vanished over the weekend. (AP Photo/Seattle Times, Mark Harrison) OUTS: SEATTLE OUT, USA TODAY OUT, MAGAZINES OUT, TELEVISION OUT, SALES OUT. MANDATORY CREDIT TO: MARK HARRISON / THE SEATTLE TIMES. (Mark Harrison)

Karole Johnson places balloons of princesses and flowers at the entrance sign to the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 in Bremerton, Wash. A four-day search for a missing Washington girl who vanished from her home over the weekend came to a tragic end Thursday, as authorities said they believe they have found the body of 6-year-old Jenise Wright. (AP Photo/Kitsap Sun, Larry Steagall) (LARRY STEAGALL)

Ronald Newton prays along side Old Military Rd. for missing Stele Creek Mobile Home Park resident Jenise Wright,6, on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, after word got out that remains were found in the vicinity of the mobile home park where the girl vanished. Authorities in Kitsap County said the remains have not been identified and an autopsy will determine the manner and cause of death. (AP Photo/Kitsap Sun, Larry Steagall) (Larry Steagall)

This undated photo provided by the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office shows Jenise Paulette Wright. Kitsap County sheriff's deputies are searching for Jenise, 6, who is missing and was last seen Saturday night, Aug. 2, 2014, at her home in east Bremerton, Wash. Jenise is 3 feet tall, weighs 45 pounds and has black hair. She'll be a first-grader this coming school year. (AP Photo/Kitsap County Sheriff's Office) (Uncredited)

Law enforcement members search the trunk of a vehicle entering the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Bremerton, Wash. More than 100 officers from 10 law enforcement agencies are involved in the search for a 6-year-old girl who disappeared from her Washington state home over the weekend, sheriff's officials said Tuesday. Investigators don't know if the girl, Jenise Wright, wandered off or was the victim of an accident, abduction or homicide. (AP Photo/Kitsap Sun, Larry Steagall) (Larry Steagall)

This undated photo provided by the FBI shows Jenise Paulette Wright. More than 100 officers from 10 law enforcement agencies are involved in the search for 6-year-old Jenise, who disappeared from her Washington state home over the weekend, sheriff's officials said Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/FBI) (Uncredited)
Death of Washington girl, 6, ruled a homicide
Authorities confirm body found in woods was that of 6-year-old girl; death ruled homicide

Posted on Aug. 8, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 8, 2014 at 1:57 a.m.

SEATTLE (AP) — An autopsy has confirmed a body found in the woods near a mobile home park where a Washington girl went missing was that of 6-year-old Jenise Wright, authorities said Friday

The coroner also ruled the death a homicide, said Earl Smith, incident commander for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office. No exact cause of death was immediately released.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Scott Wilson said earlier Friday that the wooded area where an FBI team found the body contained thick brush and likely was muddy. He said the person responsible for the girl’s disappearance likely would have been covered in mud.

Meanwhile, Wilson said authorities are collecting DNA cheek swabs from dozens of residents who volunteer them in the Bremerton-area mobile home park where Jenise lived. The samples could be used to eliminate suspects if investigators later come across DNA evidence, he said, adding the DNA collection might be expanded outside the mobile-home park.

Jenise disappeared over the weekend, and her body was found Thursday in woods near the trailer park. Her family has said she was an outgoing girl

“She was a happy child, a bright light for those around her,” Smith said.

Authorities are focusing on a criminal investigation of the death, though so far no arrests have been made.

The FBI’s Specialty Search Dogs Unit discovered the body after volunteer canine search teams reported their dogs showed interest in a particular area.

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.

Wilson said Thursday there were no signs of forced entry at Jenise’s home and no indication she was taken from her room.

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

Hundreds of people, including officers from 15 law enforcement agencies, searched for Jenise, going door to door at the 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 has said authorities were aware of the past charge against the father, but officers were focused on finding the girl.