COLUMBIA: A 66-year-old man was convicted yesterday of killing a waitress nearly 35 years ago before going into hiding for the three decades.
Jurors deliberated for about six hours before deciding that suburban Atlanta resident Johnny Wright was guilty of second-degree murder in the August 1976 disappearance and death of Rebecca Doisy, 23. The former University of Missouri student’s body was never found.
Her sister, Kathy Doisy, broke down in tears when the verdict was announced. Wright, who faces between 10 and 30 years’ prison when sentenced in March, showed no emotion.
“This is a weight off my shoulders,” Kathy Doisy said after the hearing. “I now know for a fact what happened to my sister.”
Defence lawyer Cleveland Tyson said he would appeal the verdict.
Wright was charged with murder in 1985, after an acquaintance said Wright admitted killing Rebecca Doisy. He wasn’t arrested until 2009, after he sought a background check for a job application at a police department in Georgia.
Police said Wright lived under the assumed identity of Errol Edwards for years in Seattle, Texas and most recently Georgia, where he raised a family. But he used his real name when seeking the background check, prosecutors said.
Jurors had to decide whether the circumstantial evidence linking Wright to Doisy overcame the lack of physical evidence, including proof that she died. Wright did not testify at his trial.
“We knew it was going to be an incredible uphill challenge, not having a body,” said Boone County assistant prosecutor Richard Hicks, the lead prosecutor on the case. “I doubt I will ever be involved in any case like this again.”