Mary Alice Wry is a woman who, in 1980, posed as a baby photographer to gain entry to Bonnie Gamboa’s house. She murdered Gamboa, buried her body in a peach orchard outside Modesto, California, and kidnapped her three-day-old baby, Richard Jr. Their story is featured on Oxygen’s Buried in the Backyard season three premiere. Here’s what you need to know about what happened to Wry and the Gamboa family.
Wry Was Sentenced to Life in Prison
Wry and baby Richard were missing for over a week until an anonymous tip led authorities to Wry’s home. Inside, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Breshears found the baby and they arrested Wry on two counts of kidnapping and one count of murder, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
During the interrogation and trial, it came out that Wry, who already had four children, had wanted to have another child with her boyfriend. She actually told him she was pregnant several months prior to the kidnapping, with investigators suspecting she had been stuffing a pillow under her top to fool him and their neighbors. As her “due date” approached, she hatched a plan to kidnap a newborn by posing as a baby photographer. Wry actually went to the homes of two other women in the month before the Gamboa murder, but she left that first home when a visitor interrupted them.
After gaining access to Gamboa’s home, Wry stabbed Gamboa to death in the backyard and buried her body in a peach orchard about 20 miles away, then fled with the baby. She told her then-boyfriend that she had given birth at the doctor’s office.
Wry pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1984. She later petitioned the California Court of Appeal for a rehearing but was denied in 1987, according to court documents.
Baby Gamboa Was Raised by His Aunt Barbara
Gamboa, now almost 40 years old and about to be married, revealed on the show that eight years after he lost his mother, his father, Richard Sr., “lost his own battle with addiction.
“I was told when I came home my dad was overwhelmed with emotion, full of joy and pain at the same time because one of us came home and the other didn’t,” said Gamboa in the Buried in the Backyard premiere, adding, “My dad was broken …. it was like a piece of him died with [my mother].”
Richard Jr. was raised by his aunt and uncle. He and Aunt Barbara look close on Facebook and he said on the show that she and his uncle always treated him “like one of their kids.” He also said that once he had kids, “all that anger and pain went away.”
Gamboa has since gotten divorced from his first wife, but he and longtime friend Christina Moreno are set to be married in just a couple of weeks. She recently posted to Facebook that it was hard for him to tape the Oxygen special about his mother, but “he decided that telling the story of his mama was so important” and that she is “so lucky to be able to have him in [her] life.”
Buried in the Backyard season three airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Oxygen.