By Victoria Cavaliere
SEATTLE (Reuters) – A 17-year-old boy facing charges as an adult in the killing and sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl who lived in his Washington state mobile home park was ordered held on $1 million bail on Monday, court officials said.
The teenager, whose identity has not been released by authorities but has appeared in local media, made his first appearance in a Kitsap County courtroom accompanied by his defense attorney and wearing an orange jumpsuit.
Prosecutors asked the judge to order a psychiatric evaluation. A competency hearing was set for Aug. 28, court officials said.
He was taken into custody on Saturday and booked for investigation on charges of murder, manslaughter and the rape of Jenise Wright, 6, who disappeared Aug. 3 from her home in Bremerton, Washington, on the Kitsap Peninsula near Seattle.
The girl was last seen by her parents on Saturday night and was not reported missing until after she failed to show up for Sunday dinner. Her father told investigators she was often left to play alone for hours, leaving police uncertain whether she had been abducted or had wandered off.
Following nearly a week of searching, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI found Wright’s body on Thursday. She was submerged in a muddy bog and covered with a wood palette, court documents said.
Authorities said there was evidence of blunt force trauma and strangulation, and that she had been sexually assaulted.
DNA samples taken from the suspect matched semen and blood on Wright’s clothing, the court documents said.
Jenise Wright’s father, Jim Wright, said the suspect was a close friend of the girl’s older siblings.
“It’s devastating and it’s going to be hard to forgive,” Jim Wright said.
Prosecutors on Monday were still determining what formal charges to level against the teenager this week, but he was expected to be charged as an adult, Kitsap County Sheriff spokesman Scott Wilson said.
The pending charges carry a term of life in prison.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Beech)
[Crime scene tape via Shutterstock]