‘Jenise is gone, but we can and will find justice for her’

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Jenise Wright

BREMERTON — There were hugs, tears and prayers as a community came together at a memorial Friday night for 6-year-old Jenise Wright, the little girl with the big smile who vanished last weekend and whose body was found hidden under brush in a wooded area Thursday.

“She would ask me to sit by her on the bus and I would play with her at recess,” said Moana Tuitasi, a classmate of Jenice’s, who attended the vigil. “She was a really nice girl.”

It was hard for anyone to hear that the body found Thursday morning near Jenise’s Steele Creek Mobile Home Park was her remains.

Sheriff’s officials have not released the cause of death, saying only that the county coroner earlier Friday had ruled it a homicide.

“No child deserves this fate, no family deserves this loss,” Kitsap County sheriff’s Lt. Earl Smith said at a news briefing earlier Friday.

On Saturday, Deputy Sheriff Scott Wilson said “some evidence” has been collected, but he would not elaborate.

Jenise was last seen Saturday night at her home. Jenise’s parents have said they would allow Jenise to walk through the neighborhood on her own and thought when they woke up Sunday morning that Jenise was already out playing. When she didn’t return home Sunday night, the parents called police.

The girl’s disappearance shook the tight-knit community.

“You hear about these things on the news all the time,” said Danielle Kraft, a mother who lives in Bremerton. “When it’s in your hometown, it’s so much worse.”

“It’s just very difficult to think that something like this could happen to such a sweet young girl,” said Ruby Tuitasi, Moana’s mother. “I’m trying to explain it to my daughter as best I can.”

Jenise’s mother did not attend the vigil, but asked her bishop to speak on the family’s behalf.

“She’s very thankful for all the prayers that have been offered; she said she’s felt them,” said Bishop Chris Byron of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. “But she wanted me to express that for now, it’s too hard to even leave the house.”

Although Jenise’s father has cooperated with the FBI, the family knows there is suspicion about whether he was involved in her disappearance and death.

“That’s very hard,” said Byron. “Because no one knows them. And if they knew them, they’d never have that thought.”

They can only hope that sheriff's investigators will keep the promise they made Friday.

“Jenise is gone, but we can and will find justice for her,” Smith, of the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office, said.

The Washington State Patrol has volunteered the use of their crime lab to help with DNA testing. People in and around Jenise’s neighborhood have been voluntarily giving their DNA samples during the past few days.

The public may also be able to help with the investigation.

Jenise’s body was found in a muddy area, so the suspect likely came home sometime last weekend with muddy boots and clothes. Anyone with information is urged to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

To see an earlier story, click here.

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  • tami kirkland

    Really? Six years old and gone all day, before any family member noticed?? Shame, shame, shame! ABSOLUTE TOTAL NEGLECT! I’m a single mom of four, and this is NEGLECT! Too the MAX!!!!

  • christine

    they should have called as soon as they woke up and she was gone i agree parent neglect however they still don’t deserve this fate and im sure they are blaming themselves enough

    • cat

      Still hold to that guarantee? I knew everyone would think it was James, and I also knew he was innocent. And he is innocent, since the cops already arrested the bastard teenager pig that killed that baby. everybody is so judgemental and you are also wrong…..every last one of you that was “guaranteeing its her father that killed her”……I don’t see any apology posts from one of you that accused James. Not one.

  • jerry hughes

    This should have never happened :( So many are saying ( Neglect of the parents ) I say this , What parent wakes up , cant find their 6year old, Don’t know if she had breakfast, Then still don’t see them by lunch time & not tell that night do they start to worry & call police !!! Sorry but we are thinking it. My Heart goes out to the little girl & I Pray & Hope when the get the ones involved , Fry them !!!!

  • Marie Senora

    The father was convicted of child molestation. Yep, I’m thinking he’s guilty. For the Mother not to attend the vigil? She knows all about that scum she married. Shame on her for marrying and having a child by a monster. Jenise didn’t deserve her fate, but her parents are evil.

  • Julia

    You can read the molestation case if you pause the king five video by Kevin McCarty and see some of the details of the case. After the incident the 8 year old told her mother, And the mother just told Him to sleep on the couch.

  • Beasley Bale

    Hard to not think the family is involved. Who waits an entire day to even start looking for a child, and a 6 year old at that. I call b.s. on the entire family. Poor girl

  • v todd

    So, what about the 14 yr old girl that states she was with Jenice on saturday nite till 9:30. Just saying I think there is more than meets the eye. How many other teenagers were involved and around during time of this childs disappearance? Maybe someone needs to think outside the box. I think the older kids in the neighborhood need to be questioned as well. There further are individuals around the area that seem to be homeless. Dont know if this has anything to do with the case. Does anyone know what happened to the blanket that was on the highway, it was close to the road going down to gluds pond. Although in the past I have seen people coming out of the vicinity that was roped off I mentioned just wednesday about that area needing to be checked. I was told by a search and rescue team member that there are homeless people everywhere. I got that but its interesting to me that the next day this is where a body wad found.

  • Shawn

    It’s just terrible for that to happen to any kid . If it comes back that the father was in anyway involved which would be horrible. I think the next step would be to prosecute the what com county prosecutor and judge who released that child molester the first time I think it’s time to hold government officials accountable if a judge releases a child molester and he reoffends I believe the judge should be charged with neglect of his job just like if a engineers bridge collapses because of incompetence

  • kelly

    I live in a mobile home park. I have 2 young children. My son will be 8 in a few weeks and my daughter is 5. I never allow my 5 yr old out alone but occasionally let my son out with other kids alone. However he is only allowed out with my permission and to go 2 houses down and has to check in and i check on him every 20 mins or so as well. Having stated that a lot of parents feel safe around here and allow their young children outside all day unattended. I personally feel it is unsafe and neglectful but if something were to happen to their kids doesn’t mean that they directly harmed them themselves. I think children always need monitored but I see it happen everyday here where children have the whole trailer park to roam alone or with other kids. In this sad situation the girl was too young to be allowed out alone and the father obviously could be a potential suspect however I still believe this could be a terrible occurrence of an abduction and murder from someone else and people should be mindful that people in different areas with different backgrounds have different standards for what they feel is acceptable for their kids. Although most of us don’t agree with their decisions they may truly have felt that she was safe in their neighborhood playing with other kids.

    • kelly

      Right after I posted I got an update that they arrested a 17 yr old for the rape and murder. It’s so sad that such a young life was lost. Justice will be served. My thoughts and prayers to the family.