According to Court records released Monday, Jenise Wright, whose body was found last Thursday, suffered blunt-force trauma to the head and was strangled and sexually assaulted by a 17-year-old boy.
A bail of US$1 million was set for the Gabriel Zebediah Gaeta after investigators found enough proof to arrest him for adult charges on suspicion of first degree murder with several aggravating circumstances and first degree rape of a child.
Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge said Gaeta will be charged as an adult because of the seriousness of the crimes he is accused of, but nevertheless he will be kept at the county’s juvenile-detention center until he turns 18 in December.
Gaeta was close to the Wright family, according to the girl’s father. James Wright said the teen had been to his family’s house “many, many times” and was a friend of their older children. He was also an acclaimed wrestler for Olympic High School with no criminal history.
The 17 year-old was led into court, where his mother, stepfather and Jenise Wright’s parents were all present. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit with a jacket over his face. The judge granted a defense request that his face not be photographed before official charges are filed. His next court date was set for Aug. 28.
“Certainly, as you can see from the probable cause statement, his interactions suggested that he knew that responsibility was rightfully focused on him,” Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge said.
Jenise was last seen when she went to bed Aug. 2 at her family’s home in a Bremerton mobile-home park. Officials had stated there were no signs of forced entry at the residence and no indication Jenise was taken from her room.
Shorts, underwear, a shirt and a towel stained with blood and mud were found in Gabriel Gaeta’s bedroom in the East Bremerton mobile home park where he lived. The girl’s corpse was submerged in a muddy bog, covered by a wooden pallet in a patch of woods close to the Home Park. Her body was only about 15-20 feet away from where other bloody garments had been found.
According to court documents, Gaeta “clearly nodded yes” when asked during an interview Saturday if he had killed the girl.
“He’s the gentle giant type of kid,” school wrestling coach Troy Reynolds said. “He’s not super aggressive in practice, but in competition, he’s a different animal. He’s freakishly strong. The mat is kind of his canvas.”