UPDATE, 3:10 p.m.: Kitsap County prosecutors filed court papers Monday afternoon, detailing probable cause to hold Gabriel Zebediah Gaeta, 17, on one count of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree rape.
In a probable-cause document, a detective wrote that Gaeta had been linked to the slaying of Jenise Wright through a match of his DNA to DNA found on bloody clothing recovered near Jenise’s body.
During an interview with investigators on Saturday, a highly distraught Gaeta “clearly nodded yes” when he was asked if he was the only one involved in Jenise’s death, the detective wrote.
An autopsy showed blunt-force trauma to Jenise’s head, as well as evidence of strangulation by ligature and sexual assault.
In the court papers, the murder allegation included the aggravating circumstances of concealing the commission of a crime and sexual motivation. The murder and rape allegations also listed the aggravating circumstance of a particularly vulnerable victim.
A judge found probable cause to hold Gaeta at a court hearing Monday afternoon. Bail has been set at $1 million.
In a search of Gaeta’s bedroom at his home Saturday, investigators recovered blood-stained underwear, a shirt covered in blood and mud, blood-stained shorts and a bloody towel, according to the probable-cause document.
Jenise’s body was found submerged Thursday in a muddy bog in a heavily wooded area, covered by a small wood pallet.
Gaeta will be formally charged as an adult when those court papers are filed, according to the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
UPDATE, 1:34 p.m.: Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge has released the name of 17-year-old suspect’s as Gabriel Gaeta, a wrestler and athlete at Olympic High School.
ORIGINAL POST: The 17-year-old neighbor arrested in connection with the rape and murder of 6-year-old Jenise Wright was a “close friend of the family,” the girl’s father said Monday.
“It’s devastating and it’s going to be hard to forgive,” James Wright said of the male suspect.
Wright said the teen had been to their house “many, many times” and was a friend of their older children.
Wright had even taken the teen under his wing, and taught him how to chop firewood to make extra money.
The teen’s mother had also been to their home, he said.
The Wrights will be at a custody hearing in court at 1:30 pm, hoping to regain custody of their two children, 8 and 12, who were removed by Child Protective Services last Monday.
Jenise Wright was last seen the evening of Aug. 2. Her body was found on an overgrown, muddy slope in the woods behind the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park on Thursday.
The teen, who is being held in the juvenile detention center because of his age, was arrested Saturday.
The Wrights thanked people for their prayers and said they could feel the love and concern behind “each and every prayer.”
They invited people to attend a celebration of Jenise’s life at 1 p.m. on Aug. 16 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at 9256 Nels Nelson Road N.W. in Bremerton.