Ga. man accused in 1976 Mo. slaying free on bond -

Ga. man accused in 1976 Mo. slaying free on bond

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- A 65-year-old Georgia man accused of killing a former University of Missouri student more than 30 years ago lived under an assumed name for decades to avoid arrest, a Missouri newspaper reported.

Johnny Wright, of Lawrenceville, Ga., was arrested in late September, more than two decades after he was charged with second-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old waitress Rebecca Doisy. The woman disappeared in August 1976, and her body has never been found.

Members of Wright's family paid a cash bond of $10,000 to secure his release last week from the Boone County Jail pending trial. His next court appearance is Dec. 11.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Wednesday that Wright has been living under the assumed identity of "Errol Edwards" for at least 25 years while using a false Social Security number, driver license and voter registration.

Public records obtained by the newspaper show that using the assumed name, Wright first emerged in Seattle in April 1984, a year before a warrant was issued for his arrest.

He moved nine times between 1984 and 1991 before settling in Marietta, Ga., for three years, according to the Tribune.

Wright's former brother-in-law confirmed that a photo of the murder suspect showed the same person who married his sister under the assumed name.

Wright has been married at least twice, and his current spouse, who is 38, was previously the family's baby sitter. He has two adult children, including a daughter who attends college in Atlanta.

The $10,000 cash bond represented 10 percent of the total bond amount of $100,000, set when the Boone County murder charge was first filed in 1985.

Wright appeared in court on Nov. 6 for the first time since his arrest in Georgia and subsequent extradition to Missouri. Boone County associate circuit judge Christine Carpenter rejected a request by Wright's lawyer for a lower bond but also did not increase the amount. He was released three hours after his court appearance.

Boone County assistant prosecutor Richard Hicks said he did not press for a higher bond amount because he did not have any evidence that Wright is a flight risk. But Hicks and Columbia police said they were not aware of Wright's assumed identity.

"This is all new information to me, Hicks said.

Doisy disappeared in August 1976 after she was seen with Wright, a city public works employee with a lengthy arrest record and a previous prison stint for burglary.

A former roommate of Wright's told police in 1985 that Wright had bragged about the murder and showed him Doisy's body on the night of her disappearance. Prosecutors initially charged Harry Moore with murder before he implicated Wright.

Wright resurfaced after walking into the Lawrenceville police station to obtain a background check for a truck driving job. He presented a new ID card with his real name, triggering a hit for the second-degree murder warrant.

Defense attorney Cleveland Tyson Jr. said Wright was not aware of the old warrant and that he plans to appear in court next month.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune,

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Powered by Frankly