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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Trial Begins for Georgia man Charged in 1976 Missouri Slaying of Rebecca Doisy


Trial to begin for Georgia man charged in '76 Missouri slaying

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

COLUMBIA, Mo. • Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday morning in the trial of a 66-year-old Georgia grandfather accused of killing a Missouri waitress nearly 35 years ago.
Johnny Wright faces a second-degree murder charge in the August 1976 disappearance and presumed death of 23-year-old Rebecca Doisy, a former University of Missouri student.
Wright was first charged with murder in 1985 but not arrested until late 2009 after he sought a criminal background check in suburban Atlanta for a job application. Columbia police say that Wright has been living under an assumed identity for years in Georgia, where he raised a family.
Doisy's body was never found. A resident of her apartment complex reported seeing Doisy leave with Wright the day she went missing.

Rebecca Doisy Disappeared Without a Trace 33 Years Ago

By Gary C. King 
Tuesday, Oct. 13 2009
Rebecca Doisy, 23, wanted to be a teacher. She was studying for a degree in education at the University of Missouri in Columbia when, without warning, she disappeared, never to be seen again after accepting a date to have a drink with a man, Johnnny Wright, seven years her senior.

Rebecca had been working part-time as a waitress at Ernie's Restaurant, also in Columbia, during what she had intended to be only a temporary break from college when she met Wright.  Wright had been coming into Ernie's regularly, pestering her for a date. She finally agreed to have a drink with him at Ernie's on August 5, 1976.
Whatever she had been thinking, perhaps merely believing that a drink with the man at the establishment where she worked would be harmless, likely will never be known.  One thing is certain, though -- agreeing to the meeting turned out to be the worst decision of her young life...

Thumbnail image for Johnny Wright.jpg
Johnny Wright
When Rebecca failed to show up for work two days later, a concerned relative reported her missing.
"She never missed work," her younger sister, Kathleen Doisy, said. "She didn't show up, and that's when we knew something was wrong."

Because her body has never been found, there has been no way to determine whether she was raped or otherwise sexually abused, and no way to determine how she died short of a confession by the perpetrator. Although it seems likely that she was abducted, perhaps after voluntarily leaving the restaurant with Wright, and was later killed by some means of homicidal violence, the specific circumstances surrounding her disappearance and presumed death remain a mystery to this day.

There is still hope that this cold case will be solved, and that hope was heightened in late September when Wright walked into a Lawrenceville, Georgia police station, some 700 miles from Columbia, to order a background check on himself that he said was needed by a prospective employer.

According to Capt. Greg Vaughn, Wright was in possession of a newly-issued state ID card which he used to order the background check. Unfortunately for Wright, the ID card bore his real name and correct date of birth -- a stupid mistake on his part. When he returned the next day, September 23, to pick up the background check, he was promptly arrested on an outstanding warrant out of Columbia. Dating from 1985, the warrant accused him of Doisy's slaying.

"It just happened there were officers in the lobby when he walked in," Vaughn said.  "He basically paid $15 to get extradited to Missouri."
Police believe that Wright had been in Lawrenceville for at least a year -- he had even registered to vote there.
Wright was questioned right after Doisy disappeared, but was soon released due to lack of evidence. However, nine years later, in 1985, a warrant was issued for his arrest after a former acquaintance came to the police with new information about Doisy's case.
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