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Cops seek suspect "covered in mud" in case of Wash. girl, 6

Jenise Wright CBS affiliate KIRO

SEATTLE - The person who might be responsible for the disappearance of a 6-year-old Washington girl would have been "covered in mud," and authorities on Friday asked for the public's help in recalling whether they had seen anyone over the weekend who fit that description.

The wooded area where an FBI team found a body believed to be that of Jenise Wright was covered with thick brush and likely was muddy, and a possible suspect may have muddy clothing, Scott Wilson, a spokesman with the Kitsap County sheriff's office, said Friday.

"If you know somebody who... was covered in mud, or know somebody who had a favorite item of clothing or shoewear and disposed of it, that's something investigators need to know and would like to talk to you about," Wilson said, according to CBS affiliate KIRO.

Meanwhile, Wilson said authorities are collecting DNA cheek swabs from residents who volunteer them in the Bremerton-area mobile home park where Jenise lived. He said the samples would be used to eliminate suspects.

"We suspect that she just did not go off by herself and fall into some bushes and die," said Wilson.

Jenise disappeared last weekend and authorities said remains found Thursday in woods near the trailer park are likely hers.

Formal identification of the body was expected Friday. Autopsy results could also become available Friday.

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. She was outgoing and unafraid to talk to anyone, family said.

Wilson said Thursday that there were no signs of forced entry at the girl's home and no indication that 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 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 made by the Associated Press.

KIRO reports a candlelight vigil will be held for Jenise at a local church at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

  • Crimesider Staff

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