While the father of slain 6-year-old Jenise Wright says he’s already forgiven his daughter’s alleged killer, KIRO Radio’s Don O’Neill said he can’t forgive the father.
“I can’t explain this story without my blood bubbling,” Don said in an emotional discussion on Wednesday’s Ron and Don Show.
In an interview with the Kitsap Sun, James Wright said Gabriel Gaeta “chose wrong,” but “I’ve already forgiven him.”
“How can I be in (God’s) grace if I don’t forgive?” said Wright, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints.
Police have said Jenise’s parents allowed the little girl to roam freely around the Steele Creek Mobile Home park in East Bremerton. Her parents didn’t report her disappearance to police for over 24 hours after she was last seen in their home.
“I don’t forgive him,” Don said of Wright. “The reason I don’t forgive him is because as a parent, it is your job to know where that child is. It is your job to make sure there aren’t all kinds of people that are in and out of your house all the time. It is your job to protect that child. He did not protect that child and I could give a damn if he forgives this alleged rapist murderer.”
Co-host Ron Upshaw said he doesn’t care whether Wright forgives the accused killer. But he does think the father should face criminal punishment for neglecting his daughter.
“Whatever he needs to do to deal with it is his business,” Ron said. “Whether he wants to forgive this guy or not forgive this guy, or feel like he was part of the family or not part of the family, I don’t care. None of those details matter to me. What matters to me is that I feel like he was criminally negligent in the death of his 6-year-old.”
Ron said he has tremendous sympathy for the pain Jenise’s family must be suffering, but he said it’s important they face charges for what he calls the “textbook definition” of child endangerment.
“I feel a tremendous amount of compassion for this family, that’s a thing that no parent should have to go through and you can have your heart broken for this family that lost its child. At the same time, you can consider them criminally negligent,” he said. “I hope that parents out there view this and go, ‘Wow, I need to get my act together because I’ve done things that are similar.'”
James and Denise Wright continue seeking to regain custody of three children removed from their care following Jenise’s disappearance. KING 5 reports they appeared in court Monday and have been allowed visitation with the 8, 12 and 16-year-old, and have another hearing next week.
James Wright told the Kitsap Sun he is taking steps to heal and is leaning on his faith in Jesus. But without the other kids in the house, the healing can’t begin.
“How can you put a puzzle back together if you don’t have all the pieces?” he asked.
But Don has little empathy.
“One of the pieces is dead […] You didn’t call 911 until 26 1/2 hours after your 6-year-old had disappeared. And who knows, maybe if they started looking for her in the morning, maybe this wouldn’t have happened…maybe she was still alive at lunch time.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.