Jamie Wright, considered by many in the community as a pillar of Ray City, was murdered last Thursday evening. A massive manhunt for her navy blue Dodge Dakota truck ended early Monday morning in Gainesville, Florida, and two suspects are now in custody.
According to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation press release, Dennis Gene Welch, 33, and Michelle Lynn Ziegenfuss, 30, were arrested at 6:30 a.m. by Alachua County Florida Sheriff’s deputies and GBI agents while staying at the Ironwood Apartments. Ms. Wright’s vehicle was recovered at the scene.
Welch is originally from Michigan, and he and Ziegenfuss had been living in Ray City for approximately one month.
Additional charges are forthcoming in Georgia for both subjects to include a murder charge on Welch. Both subjects are being held in Alachua County until extradition is waived or a hearing can be held to return them to Georgia.
Ms. Wright was born in March 1926 and was discovered Saturday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. by her daughter, Diane Cody. Neighbors were alerted after her daughter let out a bloodcurdling scream as she ran outside to call for help.
A retired secretary in supplies for the Civil Service for over 20 years, Ms. Wright was in Nashville Thursday evening for a 6 p.m. lecture (entitled “Is It Alzheimer’s or Something Else”) conducted by Joe Morgan, M.D.
Her eldest daughter, Colleen Bracewell, met her mother at the lecture and later called to make sure she had arrived home safely. Ms. Wright recently underwent cataract eye surgery and was experiencing double vision.
Police believe the suspects were in Ms. Wright’s home during this call and say she never answered. At 9:45 p.m., neighbor Johnny Cooper, who was sitting on his front porch, heard a single gunshot. He investigated but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Indeed, the state crime lab confirmed Ms. Wright was killed by a gunshot wound.
On Friday several renters knocked on Ms. Wright’s door, but after noticing her truck was missing, they assumed she wasn’t home. When Ms. Wright was found two days later, she was sitting upright in a chair, a pen still in her hand. The phone receiver was off the hook.
Police believe she knew the identity of her killers. Ms. Wright owned rental property and often loaned money to folks in need. And approximately three years ago, her home was robbed.
Ms. Wright was known to many in Ray City. The feisty, still-active senior citizen was a proud member of Ray City United Methodist Church and an auxiliary lady with the Ray City Volunteer Fire Department. She continued to climb ladders, clean her roof (she had purchased shingles to repair it the day she died), and did her own plumbing repairs.
One time several Spanish residents approached her with their idea of building a church, so Ms. Wright kindly donated a house so the church could become a reality. Anytime a function occurred at the church, she was invited to attend. And although she couldn’t understand nary a Spanish word, they held her in high regard.
This kind, humble lady leaves behind three daughters: Colleen Bracewell, Diane Cody, and Tammy Hurley. Her husband, Vernon Wright, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, preceded her in death. She had seven grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren.
© Jeremy L. Roberts, 2013. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in full without first contacting the author. Headlines with links are fine. In addition, posting any links to Twitter or Facebook is sincerely appreciated.