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Sacramento family man Ray Wright is abducted. A soda cup leads to his kidnappers.

Who Took Our Dad? The Abduction of Ray Wright
Who Took Our Dad? The Abduction of Ray Wright 40:41

On Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, Dean Wright was worried. His 55-year-old brother, Raymond Wright, a family man and master carpenter, had vanished. Dean Wright spoke to his brother daily, but now Ray Wright had not answered any texts or calls in two days.

"I called, and I called, and I called, straight to voicemail every time," Ray Wright's daughter, Haley Kendall, says. Her sister Kennedy Wright told "48 Hours, "It was really scary."

Ray Wright and family
Ray Wright, center, with his family. Pictured from left, granddaughter Ashtyn and daughters Haley Kendall and  Kennedy Wright. Peggy Wright

Contributor Natalie Morales spoke with Wright's family about his disappearance for "Who Took Our Dad? The Abduction of Ray Wright," an all-new "48 Hours" airing Saturday, Feb. 3 at 10/9c on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

Dean Wright had repeatedly checked his brother's workshop and home in the Sacramento suburbs. Nothing seemed out of place, other than the fact that Ray Wright's truck was missing.

On that Saturday afternoon, Dean Wright returned to his brother's house. He knocked on the door, then turned the lock with his spare key.

"And immediately I smelled marijuana smoke," Dean Wright said. "And that's when I knew … this is completely wrong because he didn't like that … And I'm getting increasingly tense about it … So, as I walked forward … I saw a cup on the countertop. And that had not been there. And it had condensation on it … I took another step-and-a-half …"

Suddenly, the garage door burst open. Dean Wright stood face to face with an intruder. "[He] yelled at me, 'Get out of here …' And I said, 'Who are you?' … 'Where's Ray?'" 

The man stepped toward Dean Wright, he says, then abruptly turned and escaped out the back. Dean Wright immediately called 911 and filed a missing person's report. He showed investigators something critical:  the cup on the kitchen counter, fresh with soda and ice. It would become their first clue.

Ray Wright evidence
The soda cup the intruder left behind in Ray Wright's home.  Sacramento County District Attorney's Office

"[It] was the one piece of evidence left by the burglar at the victim's residence," Rocklin Police Sergeant Zack Lewis said. "As days go by, it becomes more suspicious."

Ten days after Ray Wright went missing, police found his abandoned truck in a nearby apartment complex, stripped of its license plate. Brown stains on the carpet liner in the back of the vehicle were later confirmed to be Ray Wright's blood.

Then, six days after the truck was discovered, investigators got another huge break. An officer driving behind a white van noticed it had expired registration with current registration sticker tabs. When police tried pulling the van over, the driver hit the gas, leading them on a chase with speeds reaching 100 mph. The pursuit ended with the driver slamming into another vehicle, breaking his leg and being rescued from his smoking van. Police identified him as Victor Gray and arrested him for felony evasion and DUI. When they searched DMV records, they discovered the registration tab on Gray's van belonged to none other than Ray Wright's vehicle. 

"That's the first connection that they're able to make between Victor Gray and Ray Wright's disappearance," Sacramento County Prosecutor Matt Chisholm told Morales.

Then, in April 2018, while Gray was in jail, investigators got a crucial DNA hit, matching the straw from that soda cup found in Ray Wright's home to Gray. Gray was a convicted felon, so police had his DNA on file. 

And when investigators searched the van Gray crashed, they unraveled what they describe as "a treasure trove of evidence." In the back of the van, inside a black tarp, they pulled out a hat with the words "Ray Wright Design," along with a bloody rain jacket, Ray Wright's destroyed cellphone, his driver's license and a broken pair of glasses. Gray's cellphone was also in the van —  and what investigators found there furthered the mystery. Inside that phone was a photo of a handwritten letter to someone named "Bob." 

Ray Wright evidence
The letter that prosecutors believe Victor Gray wrote, demanding payment for delivering Ray Wright to "Bob." Sacramento County District Attorney's Office/PRA Request

"And it's clear that Victor has grievances with Bob," Chisholm said. "The grievances stem about not being paid for delivering the 'dude' to you." The letter reads: "I'm done waiting and need a fat package today."  Prosecutors believe Gray was demanding payment from Bob for delivering Ray Wright to him. In the letter, prosecutors say Gray writes how he "hand delivered you your revenge."

Digging into Ray Wright's past, investigators had learned that while driving drunk, Wright caused an accident in November 2011 — six years prior to his disappearance. He severely injured a man named Robert "Bobby" Manor and Manor's wife, who almost died. 

Ray Wright was convicted of felony DUI and ordered to pay more than $275,000 to the victims. Placer County District Attorney Investigator Ashley Englefield said, "he had occasionally made payments on that debt, but not very much." 

After the accident, Ray Wright immediately quit drinking, rejoined Alcoholics Anonymous and changed his life. But Manor was left in pain and with a permanent limp. Witnesses who knew Manor told police he never forgave Ray Wright, and after Ray disappeared, the witnesses say Manor told them —"I got him." Investigator Englefield believes "the motive was strictly revenge."

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