UPDATE, 8/8/2014 5:36:53 PM -- Coroner confirms body found is that of missing Washington girl, rules death a homicide.
The latest developments in the search for 6-year-old Jenise Wright:
Kitsap County Sheriff's Office said positive identification of a child's body found in Bremerton will be made on Friday by the medical examiner.FBI and other officials have received over 200 leads in the search for the six-year-old.Authorities encourage the public to continue calling in tips and information in the case to 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Officials say the case is now a criminal investigation.
BREMERTON, Wash. - A four-day search for a missing 6-year-old Bremerton girl ended tragically Thursday, as authorities say they believe they have found the body of Jenise Wright.
"We are awaiting confirmation of the child's identity by the coroner; however it appears that the body is
that of Jenise. Sheriff's detectives expect that formal identification may occur tomorrow. The family has been notified," said the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office in a released statement.
An autopsy will be conducted Friday by the county's forensic pathologist. The coroner will determine cause and manner of death, which will help in the case, which officials are now calling a criminal investigation.
Authorities in Kitsap County are trying to narrow in on a suspect. They said there have been no arrests in the case, and no cause of death was given
An FBI team using search dogs discovered the body in a forested area near the mobile home park where the girl lived about 11:30 a.m. Thursday. Her family has been notified. The body has been turned over to the county coroner, who is expected to positively identify and determine the cause of death on Friday.
The body was found near Still Creek mobile home park. Jenise was last seen there by her family Saturday night when she went to bed. She was reported missing the next day, launching a huge search with more than 100 people and 15 agencies, including the FBI. Searchers like father and son team, Tom and John Holt, said they were hoping for a better ending.
"It's just closure for the family," said Tom Holt. "It's always hard. You always hope you're going to find somebody alive, maybe not hurt but just lost."
The sheriff's office said the discovery was due to a combination of information from the community, a pursuit of the hundreds of leads that have come in and the extensive search efforts. The FBI continues to collect tips at 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Community members began leaving items at the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park in honor of Jenise Wright. Others came to offer their condolences and say a prayer for the little girl.
"I have an 8-year old and she comes down to the neighborhood to play with some kids sometimes, and we are just so heartbroken right now," said Ronald Newton, who never met Jenise but felt like he had seen her before.
Investigators also said no arrests have been made, but did not go into detail about whether they believed foul play was involved though they are calling this a criminal investigation.
"We don't suspect she went into the woods by herself and fall into the bushes and die," said Kitsap County Sheriff's Department Deputy Scott Wilson.
The 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.
Officers have been going door to door at the mobile home park. They were also pulling surveillance video from nearby businesses and checking in with sex offenders in the county.
Court records show Jenise's father, James Wright, was charged more than a decade ago with molesting two girls, ages 8 and 15. He 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.
According to court records, the girl's father was charged with first-degree child molestation in February 2000, accused of molesting an 8-year-old girl following a New Year's Eve celebration. The girl told a detective and case worker that he inappropriately touched her, according to court documents.
More than a year later, in June 2001, the charges were amended to include third-degree child molestation after a 15-year-old girl who was babysitting the girl during New Year's Eve 2000 said that Wright touched her breasts and put his hands down her pants, according to court documents.
A judge in Whatcom County Superior Court sentenced Wright to a year in jail but suspended the entire jail time provided he followed certain conditions, including paying fees.