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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ann Street death investigated

3-25-2010 West Virginia:

PARKERSBURG - Parkersburg police have identified the victim of an apparent homicide early Wednesday morning on Ann Street.

Detective Sgt. Greg Nangle said 68-year-old Willard Rex Wright lived alone in Apartment 2 in the rear of 910 Ann St.

Nangle said Wright was a registered sex offender.

According to the West Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry, Wright was convicted on Aug. 2, 1963, on charges of attempt to commit first-degree sexual assault and incest on a minor female. Wright served about seven years and five months in custody and was placed on four months parole. In 1988 he was convicted in Ohio of attempted rape of a female acquaintance between the ages of 6-12 years old and served 15 years.

Police said this was the first homicide in Parkersburg this year.

"We are not releasing the cause of death at this time," Nangle said. "This was definitely a homicide."

Nangle said Wright's family has been notified.

What appeared to be a wallet was seen in a storm drain on 10th Street, about a block from the apartment building, Nangle said. He said the wallet has been helpful, but declined to elaborate.

"This was a very violent crime," Police Chief Joe Martin said.

Investigators do not believe burglary was the motive. They do believe that Wright and the suspect knew each other, Martin said.

"We believe this individual knew the victim," Martin said.

Police have not released how Wright was killed; however, Martin said the evidence does not indicate a firearm was used.

"There were no guns involved in this case," he said.

Officers were dispatched to the apartment building shortly before 2 a.m. for a burglary call and were directed to the rear to Apartment 2, Martin said. The door was ajar and police went inside where they found Wright lying on the floor of the living room, he said.

Police are asking residents in the area if they have seen anyone walking or running north or south on Ann Street, particularly around 10th or 11th streets, Martin said. Witnesses can call the department at 304-424-8444, he said.

Police and firefighters were searching the area between Ninth and 11th streets for evidence Wednesday morning. Nangle said police have interviewed many people and are following leads; however, they do not have a suspect in custody. He said several items of evidence have been collected and sent to the state police lab.

Lt. John Young said Wright's body has been transported to the state medical examiner's office in South Charleston for an autopsy. ..Source.. by Jeffrey Saulton


UPDATE: Jury Grants Anderson Mercy


Updated 01/10/2011 @ 6:15 P.M.

A jury heard the mother of John Anderson say he believes her son deserves another chance.

"Once he gets in there, gets back on his counseling and medication, he'll do better when he gets out," Rose Hanes testified Tuesday morning.

And the jury apparently listened.

"We, the jury, make a reccommendation for mercy, signed by the foreperson," said Wood County Circuit Judge Robert Waters, reading the verdict reached just before 3:30 Tuesday afternoon.

But the jury also heard Anderson's mother describe his background: one which includes criminal convictions in adulthood, including, like murder victim Willard Wright, sex offender status. And in his childhood, he survived his parents being in an abusive relationship, three separate injury accidents, and what was supposed to be treatment in a state institution...during which a molestation incident occurred.

"They informed me that John had been raped by a 15-year-old boy," Hanes told the jury.

Hanes testified she suggested to Anderson's girlfriend, Tammy Wilfong, that she contact authorities when her daughter was inappropriately touched by wright, whom Anderson's attorneys called "the purple elephant in the room" in this case.

"At trial, he was just an old, frail man on oxygen," said Joe Munoz, Defense Attorney. "That wasn't the complete story, was it?"

"Willard Wright is a sex offender, but that gives no one the right to take his life away from him, argued Jason Wharton, Wood County Prosecutor. "Instead of calling law enforcement, he ended Willard Wright's life, by brutally murdering him."

Barring a successful appeal, the 30-year-old Anderson may be 45 by the time a parole board panel decides whether he gets that chance his mother argued for Tuesday. ..significantly more at link.. by Todd Baucher

A Wood County Jury Tuesday determined John Anderson should be eligible for mercy, after finding him guilty Monday of first degree murder.


Testimony begins in Anderson murder trial


PARKERSBURG - After a day of jury selection, testimony began Wednesday in Wood County Circuit Court in the murder trial of John Eugene Anderson.

In May 2010, Anderson was charged with the March 24 stabbing death of Willard Rex Wright, 68, in his Ann Street apartment.

James Richard Claypool II testified for the state to his meeting and conversations with Anderson in the Washington County Jail where Anderson was incarcerated after his arrest in connection with Wright's murder.

Claypool, who was a member of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, said he was introduced to Anderson by a man named Jimmy, who claimed to be Anderson's nephew.

"He asked me to talk to him," Claypool said. "He (Anderson) told me he killed someone and he said he had it coming."

Claypool testified Anderson said Wright touched his girlfriend's daughter, but did not mention their names.

When asked by Wood County Prosecutor Jason Wharton if Anderson meant Wright, Claypool said he never heard the name before, adding he did not know anything about the case before meeting Anderson.

Later he said he saw Anderson's face on television but he was not in range to hear anything. He added he did not read any account of what happened in a newspaper or any other source.

Claypool said Anderson asked him questions about legal matters as to what the police would look for and if they could test what they found. He said Anderson was also concerned that police had the cell phone he said he used because it might have blood on it.

"He asked about what would happen if something happened to witnesses," he said. "He asked me if I could do something and if he couldn't pay if he could do me favors in jail or out of jail."

Under cross examination by one of Anderson's attorneys, Joe Munoz, Claypool said he never intended to do anything to any of the witnesses.

Claypool also disclosed he pleaded guilty in December 2009 to a federal charge of obstruction of justice with injury to an informant to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He said as a member of the Pagans he was the sergeant at arms and his duties were as an enforcer of club policy and collecting dues.

Claypool said he left the club after his plea.

Claypool said he told his attorney about Anderson in a letter and was questioned later by Parkersburg Police. When asked why he wrote to his attorney about Anderson, Claypool said he had concerns about Anderson.

"I didn't like his demeanor and he wanted witnesses killed," he said. "He would laugh and grin about what he did. He talked about how he pinched Wright's oxygen line, made a motion like he strangled him, stabbed him and said 'I d-- near cut his head off.'"

Claypool said his decision to inform on Anderson would not help with his federal charges but he hoped it would show a state judge he had turned over a new leaf by cooperating with the state.

Testimony is set to resume today at 9 a.m. before Judge Robert Waters. ..Source.. by JEFFREY SAULTON

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