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Teen suspect in Jenise Wright murder held on $1 million bail

This undated file photo provided by the FBI shows Jenise Wright. Authorities say a 17-year-old arrested in the death and sexual assault of Wright, a 6-year-old girl whose body was found near the mobile home park she vanished from last weekend, will be charged and tried as an adult. (AP Photo/FBI)
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A 17-year-old arrested in the death and sexual assault of a 6-year-old Bremerton girl was ordered held on $1 million bail at his initial court appearance Monday.

Gabriel Gaeta will be charged as an adult with first degree murder and first degree child rape by Kitsap County Prosecutors.

Court documents detailing Gabriel Gaeta investigation and arrest

Gaeta, who The Seattle Times reports is a wrestler and athlete at Olympic High School, was arrested Saturday in the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park, where Jenise Paulette Wright disappeared a week earlier.

KING 5 reports Gaeta was a close friend of Wright's family and regularly visited their home. He also attended a community vigil for Wright on Friday, according to investigators.

He lived just down the block from the Wright home in the park and a few hundred feet from where Wright's body was discovered.

Wright's body was found almost entirely submerged in a muddy bog just west of the suspect's home, covered by a small wood pallet and black bag, according to the court documents.

Gaeta's arrest came quickly after his DNA was linked to bloody underwear from the child found near her body.

Investigators collected DNA samples from residents of the mobile home park, and the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab worked around the clock to process the samples.

Wright died from strangulation and blunt force trauma to her head resulting in multiple skull fractures. There was also evidence of sexual assault, the Kitsap County Coroner's Office reported. Investigators believe her body had been moved sometime between 30 minutes and three hours after her death.

During a search of Gaeta's home, FBI agents and detectives found blood stained underwear, a blood and mud covered shirt, blood stained shorts and a bloody towel in his bedroom.

A detective questioning Gaeta at the Bremerton Police Department says the teen "clearly nodded yes" when asked if he was the only one involved in the killing.

Wright was last seen Saturday, August 2, when she had gone to bed. Her parents did not report her missing for nearly 24 hours because she had previously wandered the mobile home park with family members and friends.

A judge has ordered Gaeta undergo a competency exam amid concerns about his mental state.

The staff and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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About the Author

Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. He covers everything from May Day riots in Seattle to the latest Boeing news.


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