Incident commander: 'We will find justice for Jenise'

A Kitsap County Sheriff
A Kitsap County Sheriff's deputy monitors vehicles entering Steele Creek Mobile Home Park, Aug. 8.
— image credit: Kipp Robertson/ Herald

EAST BREMERTON — The Kitsap County Coroner confirmed Aug. 8 that the body found in a wooded area near Steele Creek Mobile Home Park is that of Jenise Paulette Wright, 6, who was reported missing on Aug. 3.

The manner of death was homicide. Officials speaking at a press conference late Aug. 8 didn’t disclose the cause of death.

“As law enforcement officers, we do not know Jenise personally, but over the last few days we have claimed her as ours,” Sheriff’s Lt. Earl Smith, incident commander, said at the press conference at Fairview Junior High School on Central Valley Road.

“We have come to know that she was a happy child, a bright light to those around her, a child of promise. And as we came to appreciate Jenise, we have shared in the stress and worry and frustration of knowing that a child is missing. Now, today, we join her family and the community in grieving her death. No child deserves this fate, no family this loss.

“While we have now been able to answer some questions about Jenise and her whereabouts, this investigation is far from over. We have much work left to do and our promise to those who love Jenise and those who have come to know her in the last few days is that we will complete that work. Jenise is gone but we can and will find justice for her.”

Jenise’s body was found Aug. 7 by K-9 units searching the area for the missing girl. Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said her body was found down a slope, in thick brush and mud, in a highly wooded area about 100 feet from a row of homes in the mobile home park. Earlier, officials said they expect that the person responsible for Jenise’s death would have emerged from the scene muddy. Wilson said that information has led to some tips; he said he hoped people with information will continue to call the FBI tipline at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or 911.

In addition, investigators continue to collect DNA samples from mobile home park residents "to assist in eliminating local residents as possible suspects," Wilson wrote in an update of the case. "This allows investigators to more closely focus their investigation." Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste has authorized the 24-hour operation of the state crime lab to help process those samples. Sheriff’s patrol deputies will maintain a uniformed presence at the entrance to Steele Creek Mobile Home Park, for the next several days, to assure park residents that their privacy is respected as best as practical.

Meanwhile, people prayed at a growing memorial of balloons, candles, cards, flowers and stuffed animals Aug. 8 at the entrance to Steele Creek Mobile Home Park. And a public vigil was scheduled on Aug. 8, 6 p.m., nearby at Crossroads Neighborhood Church, 7555 Old Military Road NE, Bremerton.



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