Gabriel Zebediah Gaeta has been named as the 17-year-old suspect arrested in the murder and rape of 6-year-old Jenise Wright.
King5.com reports Gaeta was arrested Saturday, August 9, in the Bremerton, Washington, trailer park where Wright was last seen alive eight days earlier.
Here’s what we know about Gaeta and his alleged role in this horrific crime.
1. He Faces Life in Prison
Gaeta will be charged as an adult and faces charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and rape. If convicted he’d face life in prison.
Cops say forensic evidence links him to the crime. KOMO News reports that Gaeta will be charged as an adult in the crime. Due to his age, Gaeta will not face the death penalty. The station further reports a source telling them that Gaeta said he was the only one involved in the crime. KIRO reporter Kevin McCarty tweeted that cops had asked Gaeta for a DNA sample on August 4 but his family refused, saying he was “too upset.”
Det's say Gabriel Gaeta stared straight ahead while they tried to question him about Jenise Wright. He'd relax when they left the room
— Kevin McCarty (@KevinKIRO7) August 11, 2014
2. He Attended a Vigil for the Victim
Gaeta reportedly attended a vigil for the slain girl on Friday, one day before his arrest. On the prior Thursday, FBI search dogs discovered Jenise’s body in the woods near the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park. According to reports, investigators believed her body had moved around three hours after her death.
3. He Knew the Girl’s Family & Lived Nearby
Sources tell King5.com that Gaeta knew the girl’s family and lives “just down the block.” Her body was found “a few hundred feet” from his house. Investigators towed two SUVs and a van from Gaeta home. Jim Wright, Jenise’s father, told the Seattle Times that Gaeta was a “close friend of the family.” Wright added that he had thought Gaeta how to chop firewood for extra money.
4. He Was a Wrestling Star
According to the Northwest Washington Wrestling Club website, Gaeta was the star of their team. In 2012, “Gaeta won an individual state title in the Caset 182lb division.” In the same year, he finished second in the 2012 Greco Roman State Championships in Washington. He also represented Olympic High School in wrestling. His varsity record with the school was 23-10.
5. Wright’s Parents Waited 24 Hours to Report Her Missing
Wright was last seen alive when she went to bed on the night of Saturday, August 2. Strangely, her parents waited about 24 hours before reporting her disappearance, later explaining that she often wandered off and they expected her to return.