Sometimes they speak to us.
Its a typical Deaths and Funerals article in a small-town paper. Page 12, column 3. The heart-breaking story it tells is far from typical.
Ashboro, NC -- Christine Marie Wright, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Wright, was found dead Saturday. She had been abducted from from her home in February.
The girl's body was found floating face down in a creek early Saturday night, a little more than two months after she disappeared from the apartment where her parents then lived.
An autopsy indicated the child was alive when she was thrown in the water.
On the evening of February 12, 1974, Kenneth Wright and his wife Linda put 7 year-old Christine Marie to bed around 9:30. The couple and their four children were living in an apartment in Chester, VA, awaiting the completion of their new home. It was the last time the family would see the blonde-haired, blue-eyed second grader alive.
At 6:30 the next morning, Christine was gone. The apartment was locked, but they found a sliding glass door which led to a patio open. Local police were baffled by the disappearance. Kenneth stated, "We don't know of anything that was troubling her. It may have been something deeper we didn't know about". Mother Linda simply said they had had no trouble with her. A religious family, the father told reporters they were "relying on our faith and belief".
The couple seemed to be trying to reason why Christine would run away...As though the idea of Christine being kidnapped was out of the question for them.
The only clue was a report by neighbors that they had seen a stranger in the area around 10:30 the previous night who had been chased off by dogs. The man was described as six feet tall, around 175 pounds, dark-complected with a medium-length beard.
A nation-wide search was initiated. The FBI were reportedly following leads in CT and nearby NC. No substantial leads were developed.
On April 20th, 1974, little Christine's body was found in White Oak Creek near the town of Dinwiddie. LE stated that the killer had to have known the area, as the location where she was found was the widest and deepest section of the creek. She was found about 100 yards downstream of a bridge. Any further upstream and the creek was choked with debris and shrubbery. Christine was still dressed in the pink nightie she had been wearing the night she disappeared. LE stated it was likely she was placed in the stream the night she was kidnapped.
The VA MEs office conducted an autopsy. Little Christine had been sexually assaulted, and was alive when dumped in the creek.
Used, then tossed aside to die.
The investigation into her death went nowhere. Suspects were interviewed, but no new information was discovered.
Two years later, in February of 1976, Christine was exhumed. A second autopsy was conducted by the VA and NC medical examiners. Newspapers speculated that there was a new lead, some new direction in the investigation. Authorities wouldn't reveal the exact reason, but stated that there was "hope there might be new information to come from the exam...(and) provide additional evidence". Her parents weren't even notified of the exhumation, instead they found out about it from relatives in NC.
As it turns out, the reason for the exam was far more mundane. The original ME who had conducted the initial autopsy had passed away. Due to a change in VA law, if Christine's case ever made it to court, the ME's reports would not be sufficient to secure a prosecution. The ME had to testify in person, therefore the new ME conducted an additional autopsy.
No new info was discovered.
I had considered posting this case several times, but hesitated as there wasn't much "sleuthing" to be done. People would read it, think it over, then move on to the next case. However, a few days ago, I was looking up info on something completely unrelated to Christine's death. I clicked a link, and on the screen I read this.
Chesterfield cold case homicides
1974: Nine-year-old Christine Wright was found dead in a creek in Dinwiddie County after disappearing from her apartment on Chestertowne Road.
I had found the Chesterfield Crime Solvers site without even realizing it. I could only think that Christine wanted us to remember.
General information about Dinwiddie County
County Seat: Dinwiddie
Area Code(s): 804
Time Zone: EST
Taken from http://publicrecords.onlinesearches...._Dinwiddie.htm
There are a few things about this story that strike me. The first being that I drive back and forth through that area frequently (twice a month for the past few years). I've stopped in Dinwiddie to get gas, just once. I decided I wouldn't stop again. Something about it struck me as something out of Deliverance. Gave me the heebejeebes. I grew up in a rough town, so that takes a lot. There was just something about it. That is the reason I pulled up the population, and I looked at the median incomes and such. It's not as poor of a community as it struck me, but maybe it was the area I was in?
The other thing that got me about this story. My little sister use to always sleep in this cute pink nightgown. That it immediately what I pictured. I cannot imagine her face down in a river, in the cold. It's just horrid to me.
Another thing, a woman of the same name, died the same month. From the SS Death Index-
CHRISTINE WRIGHT 31 Dec 1903 Feb 1974 27320 (Reidsville, Rockingham, NC) (none specified) 241-58-5093 North Carolina
I found no record for this Christine.
"The cure for anything is salt water- sweat, tears, or the sea." -Isak Dinensen
This case seems similar to other cases of missing children from the 1974-1979 (give or take a few years) timeframe in states close to Virginia and North Carolina. See the featured case of the missing Lyon Sisters, Sheila and Kate (Missing from Wheaton, MD 25 March 1975).
That case has a possible unidentified suspect whose description is somewhat similar to the suspect in Christine's case.
There is also a suspect who lived in Virginia at the time of this little girl's disappearance who had ties to both Virginia and North Carolina.
County Seat: Dinwiddie
Area Code(s): 804
Time Zone: EST
Taken from http://publicrecords.onlinesearches...._Dinwiddie.htm
Your so right about this. I drove there and I thought exactly the same thing. It was the most creepy place i have ever drove. I give ppl directions to N.C all the time and i tell them to get gas before dinwiddie. I know of 3 people that came up missng and 2 later found dead in the last few years of which I did not know of when I traveled that area.I have linked them for you.
They are all unrelated but for such a small population kinds makes one wonder.
http://http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19387533/ and Randy who is still missing. Sorry such a long post.This is only my second one ever.
Who is this supect from virginia ?
There is also the case of Jane Louise Puckett, who disappeared from Colonial Heights in '77 while hitchhiking (Richard posted a thread on this case). Colonial Heights is some 15 or so miles from Dinwiddie.
Wonder if they collected semen samples and if they did, will they be testing the DNA soon.
Everyday it is my fervent prayer that these cases are solved
I’m new to the site. This is my first posting. I’ve spent hours reading the entire thread on the case of the Lyons sisters. I am very impressed by what you people do here, especially concerning the cases no one seems much interested in now that years have passed and it’s no longer in the news.
However, that isn’t my reason for posting. As I read the long thread re: the Lyons sisters I began to think of the case of Christine Wright for a couple of reasons and determined to do a Google search and see if I could find anything about it. To my surprise, at the every end of the thread Richard mentioned it as another of the many unsolved cases from that time period that had some similarities.
Now, my reason for this post, and I hope no one thinks I’m crazy. I lived in Colonial Heights, which is right next to Chester, in 1974 when Christine went missing and was later found murdered. I’m a couple of years older than her; I was born in 1964, and was in 4th grade at the time. I distinctly remember the shock and fear and the later the sadness it caused my parents and me as well. Just the thought that something like that could happen in our quiet, little town. Also, the apartments where she was taken from, my Aunt and Uncle and cousins had lived in about 2 years before-which made it seem even closer to home because we had spent time over there at the apartments, Mom and Dad visiting the adults and my cousins and I playing at the playground..
I can still remember the fear many had that maybe it would happen to another child, I also remember speculation by police or the press or both that it must have been someone who Christine knew because of the glass door being open and there being no sign of struggle and no one hearing anything. It seems they thought she may have opened the glass door and let the kidnapper in or gone willingly but no one could imagine why she’d have done that.
Now, the weird part, my mom was a fortune teller, not a real psychic, my mom was a gypsy by both race and culture. Some people think they don’t exist but they all over the US. They stay hidden a lot by choice. Anyway, she was a scam artist, like her mother before her and for generations. She never considered herself psychic or to have any real powers but she made a living off of people who believed she did. She had regular customers who would come to her for years seeking help with there problems.
A couple a years after Christine’s kidnapping and death, a regular of Moms ( whose first name and appearance I still remember) told mom that she was worried about her brother. She was afraid he was going to commit suicide because of this guilt that was driving him crazy. She told my Mom that he had been the man who abducted and murdered the little Wight girl, Christine. I think maybe she thought telling mom was like telling a psychiatrist or doctor something, that there was some kind of confidentiality. Of course, even with a dr or psych there wouldn’t be confidentiality when it comes to a missing and/or murdered child.
So my mother didn’t know what to make of it, or what to do, but she couldn’t just dismiss it in good conscience. She may have been a con artist about money, but she had children of here own and had been horrified and dismayed about what had happened to the Wrights. So she called the police department and asked for a detective to come out to the house. My parents knew many of the local policemen and the chief of police but I’m not sure who had come out to the house. I think it was a detective. I remember she and the officer going in my moms office and closing the door to discuss it.
Occasionally over the years, this subject came up and Mom spoke about it to some person or another, but she‘s dead now so I can’t ask her anything. I'm thinking there may have been more to it that i didn't know or hear. She was the type to shield us from knowing much about upsetting things of that nature.
So, anyway, she told the detective what her client/customer had told her and gave them the man’s name and whatever else may have known about him.
I don’t know what happened after that but my Mom always had the impression that the police didn’t follow it up, that they thought she was a nut or something because we she was the local gypsy fortune teller. This was not something she claimed to know psychic powers, she simply told the detective what she’d been told by her client. As I recall, Mom believed it was very possibly the truth and it would just be a matter of the cops going and getting the guy. but she was naive about such things. All in all, they seemed like more naive times back then, especially in that little town.
So when no arrests were ever made and nothing ever came of it, Mom always assumed the police didn’t follow up on the lead. She knew at the time the case had come to a dead end, a couple a of years had passed. She never got the impression from her client that the police had questioned her brother.
Maybe the man or his sister (mom’s client) or both were just mentally ill and delusional?
One part of the story that doesn’t make sense to me is this: I don’t get the impression that many of these perpetrators feel much guilt over what they’ve done. However, I'm about as far from being knowledgeable or and expert on these type of things as a person get. .
I do not in any way mean to insult the LE of Chesterfield or Colonial Heights. They may have checked it out thoroughly and found no reason to believe this man a suspect. They may have had good reason based on things they knew that the public didn’t not to check it further. When reading just today that there was an exhumation and 2nd autopsy I realized that that took place about the time of Mom calling the police out and giving them information. So, who knows, maybe they were connected.
I’d like to say for the record that I only want to be helpful, and it seems to be the consensus of the members of this site that even a small piece of new information can sometimes make a huge difference. The only way I can imagine my information would help is if, in fact, the murderer was known to the little girl, and therefore to her family as well. And if, in fact, (and I know this may be highly unlikely, maybe the client of my mother and/or her brother were mentally off somehow, and just saying this stuff, for whatever reason people say this kind of stuff) . . .but, if, in fact, this brother was the perpetrator. If he is guilty and was known by the family (this would all be assuming the police didn't follow this up years ago) someone may still be able to figure out who it was because I do know my mother's client’s first name, approximate age, description and where she lived at the time. We actually helped her move into a new place and mom gave her a bunch of supplies: towels, sheets, etc. stuff to set up housekeeping-I guess she'd hit hard times and mom was helping her. I don't believe my mom ever met or saw the brother in question.
Thanks for reading all this. Sorry for such a long post. Does anyone have any idea what to make of any of this? If anything?
One other thing, a poster mentioned the “Deliverance” type landscape of Dinwiddie County the location of the creek is in which Christine’s body was found. I am not disputing that at all because it is, or was, a quite rural area with many old and broken down farm type buildings. However Colonial Heights and Chester where the Wrights lived is nothing like that. The Wrights apartment complex was within 2 or 3 miles of Colonial Heights. Colonial Heights was an affluent, white, middle class area; Chester was a bit more rural but not much. Think a cross between “The Brady Bunch” and “leave It to Beaver” with color added and 1970’s style clothes and you pretty much have the picture.
Things like that just didn’t happen in our part of the world, or so we thought. People speculated that she had maybe run away, perhaps to someone she knew. As unlikely as that would have been due to her young age, it was far more feasible in people’s minds than what ended up being the horrible truth. It just didn’t make any sense that someone could come in the night and take a little girl right out from under her sleeping parents and siblings
I can only say I hope Christine’s family has found some measure of healing ad peace from this senseless tragedy.
Thanks for reading, Carrie
Wow. Thanks and welcome, Carrie.
I'm often amazed how these things seem to come together, as though there really is some unseen force working and guiding (the discovery of Maricopa Jane Doe's true identity being a case in point).
I had come across Christine's case while researching something completely different in the newspaper archives. Bits and pieces of the story kept popping up here and there...Then finding myself on the Chesterfield police website finally told me, this girl has something to say.
I think your story is completely plausible. I'm sure all of us have read cases where murderers have at least feigned remorse for their actions and confessed to family or friends. What touched me the most about Christine was how she seemed 'tossed aside', first by her killer then the legal system, which dug her up without even letting her family know.
If there is anything we can do to finally bring justice for little Christine, I feel we have the duty and obligation to due so. I'm including the link to the Chesterfield CrimStoppers website, which has an anonymous tip line. Christine's case is listed as the oldest unsolved case on their books. I encourage you to contact them with the information you have. If you need any assistance or support, please let us know.
http://http://www.readthehook.com/stories/2007/07/19/COVER-BARKER-MAIN-0629-E.rtf.aspxIn 1981, when he was 22 and living in Angier, North Carolina, Barker pled guilty to a reduced charge of "assault on a female" after abducting an 18-year-old acquaintance at knifepoint and tying her to his bed. The young woman, who had known Barker for a year through her boyfriend, was leaving church one February night around 9 when she noticed Barker following her.
'' Life for the young Barker had posed some challenges. When he was six, Barker's parents divorced and he remained with his mother in Hopewell. They stayed in Virginia another eight years, eventually moving to Chester before relocating to Angier, North Carolina in time for high school. By his own and others' accounts, he high school with Barker and spoke on condition of anonymity.''
I found the link posted on the Cynthia Johnson thread after searching for an update to her case, Then i remembered /thought of Chrisitine wright . I dont know if this guy was/is there supect in THIS case with the virginia north carolina ties but he would of been 15 at the time. Whatcha think?
Last edited by Soulmagent; 08-22-2008 at 08:52 PM. Reason: my linky was not working
Thanks shadowangel, for both the kind words and the welcome.
It is strange the this has come to my attention after so many years. I happened onto this site totally by accident. Another sort of coincidence happened about 6 months ago that had brought Christine to my mind to begin with. my best friend and a long time friend of hers went out to dinner. Though I've known het 12 years I've only met this friend of hers briefly on two other occasions. . . we ate dinner and had a few drinks and talked a long time. somehow he got on the subject of his childhood, mostly talking about problems with his stepfather, in the course of the conversation he mentiona "traumatic" time for him as a young boy. . . he told of a little girl he that was a constant playmate and friend of his, they went to school together and lived in the same apartment complex, and how she went missinf for months and then was found dead (raped amd murdered) id a creek in Dinwiddie!!
I had assumed he grew up in Richmond, VA because that's where we all live now.I said "Oh my God , I remember that! Was her name Christina Wright?" (Christina was what I'd thought her name was). He said "Yes that was her!" and we talked about it for a while, our mutual friend just sitting there surprised. She grew up in Arizona and so, of course, knew nothing of it.
I told this guy about my Mom and the client who said her brother did it and Mom going to the police. It upset him a good bit for us to talk about and the thought that her killer has gone unpunished all these years. Apparently they were quite close, he said he'd had a little boy's crush on her.
All this brought the whole thing to my mind. I hadn't thought about for years until 6 months ago. I could see how he had a crush on her. I can still see the picture of her in the newspaper, we wer studying the newspaper in school. A very pretty little blonde girl. It's just so horrible that things like this can happen.
The reason I thought some might question my story is because of the gypsy thing. Some, many people don't know there are real gypsies. They only think of some hollywood version of women in brightly colored bandanas dancing around campfires to violin music. But there realy are many gypsies in the world. It's estimated that from 600,000 to a milliong were killed in the gas chambers during the holocaust.
I actually left the culture myself about 6 years ago. Kind of "assimilated" if you will, into larger society. I was adopted also, at the age of 2 or 3 weeks. Try walking into a new therapist's office, sitting down in a chair and announcing to them that you were adopted by gypsies! I'm exaggerating a little about the way I told it. usually, I try to let people get to know me a while first, before I bring that out. But, I have actually had doctors to think I was delusional. After time, of course, and getting to know me, they knew better.
Anyway, this thread isn't about me and sorry for taking up so much time. I do appreciate the warm welcome. I'm so impressed by what you'all are trying to do here. It's such a worthy endeavor.
I just hope and pray Christine Wright's murderer eventually pays for what he's done. Of course that won't bring her back. But at least he will be punished. Thanks again, Carrie
Oh yeah, there's that song by Cher, too. (Kidding, just kidding )
Interesting. Mmmmm. He apparently would have been in Chester around that time. I wonder if there's anyway to find out whether he lived in that apartment complex? It seems worth looking into."I found the link posted on the Cynthia Johnson thread after searching for an update to her case, Then i remembered /thought of Chrisitine wright . I dont know if this guy was/is there supect in THIS case with the virginia north carolina ties but he would of been 15 at the time. Whatcha think?"
A couple of similarities too...
One, the way the girl he was convicted of murderering was kidnapped right out of her house, at a pajama party no less, so several other children would have had to be there.
Two, in one of the cases he was suspected in, the victime was dumped in the water while still alive, she had water in her lungs. A small similarity but a similarity none the less.
It just boggles my mind that someone can kidnap a child, rape and kill the child, and then get out of jail after 9 years. NINE YEARS!! I just don't understand that! Twenty nine isn't long enough IMO but at least it's closer to a lifetime, more than that young girl will ever have.
I had the thought that Christine's murderer may have been someone who worked at the apartments...Someone who had seen her, knew where she lived, and possibly tampered in some way with the sliding door (possibly disabling the lock or leaving the door unlocked after visiting the apartment for "routine maintenance").
There are definite similarities in the cases...I guess its possible that Christine may have felt more comfortable in the presence of a 15 year-old. She probably hadn't had time to make many friends.
It's possible, though unlikely, this may have started as a burglary....The father was a manager at a financial investment firm, or something similar, and the mother was a school teacher. Personally, I believe that Christine was the intended target.
Something that struck me as odd...The parents told the local papers that they didn't believe Christine had been kidnapped because it "wouldn't have been beneficial".
Is that because they couldn't afford a big ransom?
Yeah, the Cher song didn't do much for our reputation-lol. none of my group would ever use that term either. Most don't get much formal education, maybe up to about 5th or 6th-they wouldn't use the word "culture" at all. I left, long story. Went back to school, got my GED, then on to college and completed a B.A. in English (yipes-shouldn't have told that, now i'll have to watch my spelling and grammar-)Code:Living in New York, I'm well aware of the "gypsy culture" (though you'll never hear them use that term). The term I hear used most often is "Rom", which I understand are divided into various groups. I've also heard the term "Ludar", another group who had their own villages in Queens in the first half of the 20th century. Oh yeah, there's that song by Cher, too. (Kidding, just kidding :crazy: )
The Rom are a different group or sub-culture from us. The group I grew up with and subsequently married into and raised two children within as well, call themselves Romanichels. (My daughters are grown now- they married and still live within the culture.)
Romanichels are gypsies whose ancestors have been in England for the last few centuries. All gypsies originally came from India about 2000 years ago. They've traveled all over Europe and possibly other parts of the world for so long they have all these different groups. Hungarian gypsies, Romanian gypsies, Russain and spanish, etc. So there all many similarities, but yet many differences among the groups or different "types" of gypsies.
Whoever it was, presumably they would ahve to have access to a vehicle, wouldn't you think so, to be able to transport her to where her body was found.
Fifteen is very young but not impossible.
I'm curious about the other information you have, the father and mothers occupation etc. I haven't been able to find much. Could you tell me where you found it? Or is it one of those pay databases?
they were living in the apartments while waiting for a house to be builtCode:I thought i read they were getting ready to move ,I may have it flipped.
Wonder what grade she taught do you know? I also wonder how old her siblings were,I dont think I have read that anywhere .It does amaze me that this guy is a supect in a double homicide and was in jail for rape and murder and still got a job working with kids.Not to mention he should of been put back in jail to pull the rest of his sentence the minute the parole board heard of that. At which time he wouldnt of been around to be a supect in the Johnson case.JMO..
But i just keep thinking about ted bundy being supected in Ann Marie Burr (years later of course) he lived close to her,and he was 14 at the time,and a paper boy. She was taken from her bedroom.
See where this is going?
I think we need to track this guy's whereabouts. While we're at it...Anyone know of a local news contact? It would be great to get Christine's story out there again, maybe jog someone's memory (or loosen their tongue after all this time).
As for some of the questions...Christine's mother taught 3rd grade. She was a former nun.
Christine was the oldest of four children. She had two brothers, each born a year apart after Christine, and a sister who was the youngest (6, 5, and 4 years old at the time of Christine's disappearance, respectively).
Christine was born in May of '66. Her parents had met and married in California the year prior.
Funny, I joined WS's in July and I was just this morning looking for info about Christie to post here in hopes that someone knew something. I was born and raised in Colonial Heights and Chester, Virginia. When Christie dissappeared I was a child as well. I lived about a mile and a half from where she lived on Chestertown Rd. I lived in Hidden Valley Estates on Cresthill Rd. I was young yes, but I remember the search like it was yesterday. My parents were among those who searched if memory serves me correctly. My Dad to this day is very..ummm...tight lipped....about this case, and I don't know why. He refuses to discuss it. I guess that's what bothers me about it so badly all these years later. My Grandfather knew all these people. He was in real estate and he held and sold the option on the piece of land where those apartments were built. He was also VERY nosey. The apartments, to the best of my knowledge, were new when the Wright's moved there. My Grandfather had his own theories about what happened to Christie.
I don't know of any news contacts there, but if there's anything you want to know about the area I can probably help with that. I only recently left Virginia for good...AND...if someone manages to dig up something that needs to be checked out I'd be more than happy to make the five hour trip. I'm sure my Mom would be thrilled to see me and her Grandson. All of my family is there...in Colonial Heights, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Hopewell and Chester.
I just wanted to let you know I do plan to call Crimestoppers like you suggested. I'll let you know how that goes.
Also, the idea of getting the story out again is a great one. I still live in the general area, so I'll think about that and ask around, I might be able to stir up some interest. I don't know anyone specific, but I still may be able to generate some interest.
Another side note to these cases in general, where these children go missing with no apparent sign of struggle, like Christine did, and those Lyon girls in MD a couple of years later. . .
. . .these monsters, that's what I believe these perpetrators are, can apparently perfect their methods for getting children to trust them, or to go quietly for a minute or two, which is all the time they need. . . A friend of mines daughter-in-law, I won't mention her name because it's not relative to the case and to protect her privacy, this woman is 28 now. When she was 7 years old she was sleeping at night and her bedroom window was open. It was summer time and the whole family was asleep, there ws one sibling, a brother, asleep in his bedroom. Anyway, a man came in her window and abducted her. He told her that he was a fireman, that the house was on fire, and that her parents and brother were all safely outside and that he was going to take her to them. All this to keep her quiet and prevent her questioning or perhaps struggling. . . Subsequently, he took her off to a wooded area and raped her and left her for dead in the woods. Amazingly, the child survived and wandered through the woods until she came to a road and was found by someone. She sent several weeks in the hospital. I don't know many details, as far as how long she was in the woods or even if the man was caught but I don't think he was. . . naturally, it's not something she's going to just blurt out and talk about, she's in therapy now by the way, I've only heard about it from her husband and mother-in-law who is my friend. . . .the rason I mention it is I was amazed when I learned of that story to realize how easy it can be for these maniacs to trick a child. I had all those talks with my daughters about strangers and non strangers and told them to yell and make a scene and say "your aren;t my father, or mother" or "I don't know you". I covered everything I could think of, trying to make them aware of scenarios a kidnapper might use. It's a wonder my daughters weren't scared to death. But when you really think about it. How many children, that young, 6 or 7, if awakened in the middle of the night by someone claiming to be a fireman (I don't know if he had any props or fireman's garb) and telling them the house was on fire so they were going out the window, wouldn't be fooled for a few minutes, which is all these monsters need?most children would be tricked. It's chilling to think how much thought goes into some of their methods for abducting children and getting away with it. Absolutely chilling. I'm so glad this little girl miraculously survived. She's a lovely young woman.
A person of interest in the case of the Missing Lyon Sisters (Wheaton, Maryland 25 March 1975) was a guy named Fred Howard Coffey, Jr.
Fred was born in 1945 and in February of 1974 he was in the Navy, stationed in Norfolk, VA. He is currently incarcerated for life in Pender Prison, North Carolina for the abduction and murder of a little girl, Amanda Ray (10 years old) in Charlotte, NC in 1979.
Sometime in 1974, Fred picked up the 13 year old, daughter of a fellow Navy man at a convienience store. He drove her to Virginia Beach where he raped her. Civilian authorities dealt with the crime and when his (third) enlistment ended in September 1974, he was not allowed to re-enlist, but was put out of the Navy with an Honorable Discharge.
By April 1975, Mr. Coffey was working for VITRO Laboratories, a defense contractor, in Wheaton, Maryland. During his time there, several young girls went missing in Maryland and nearby Pennsylvania.
In July 1975, A young girl named Kathy Beatty (age 14) was abducted, sexually assulted, badly beaten and left for dead in a field, near a stream of water. When the newspaper stated that she was still alive and in the hospital, Fred Coffey suddenly left town without notifying his employer. Later, after news papers reported that Kathy had died after 12 days in a coma, Fred wrote to VITRO and requested his pay up through the end of the month be mailed to him. He stated that he left town because his daughter and wife had been in a traffic accident out of state. This was a lie that he was to use later in another similar incidence.
Fred Coffey returned to the Virginia Beach, VA area and by October 1975 was arrested there for "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" with a 15 year old girl. By the end of the year, he was in North Carolina enlisting in the NC National Guard.
In 1986, Coffey was arrested, charged and convicted of molesting three children. While in prison, he was charged with the 1979 murder of Amanda Ray. He is a strong suspect in the abduction and murder of two other children as well; Travis Shane King, age 8 of Bristol, VA (1986) and a little five year old girl, Neely Smith in Charlotte, NC in 1982.
So, here was a child molester and child murderer, living in Virginia in 1974. But is there any known connection between Fred Coffey and the Wright family or anyone in that area?
I could only guess that, before the internet age, most people felt that "something like this doesn't happen here. Not in our town". I don't think people realized how wide-spread and frequent child murders were, and seemingly always have been. The attitude could easily have been to ignore the truth and pretend it didn't exist. For some people, denial is the only defense available to them.
Thanks, Carrie, for stepping forward and contacting Crimestoppers.
Welcome, Shutterfly, your input and offer to help is greatly appreciated.
Richard-I thought of Coffey when I read of Christine's murder. This certainly seems to be someone who knew what they were doing. Does anyone know what the police department was like at that time? The size of the department? Were they experienced to any degree in investigating crimes such as this?
I worry that evidence could have been overlooked...If the the first impression that everyone had was that she simply walked away from the apartment, would a thorough search of the scene have been conducted?
Fingerprints...Shoe prints...Hair and fiber (both at the scene and on Christine)...
I'm going to try to contact someone with the local LE and see if they are willing to shed any light on the investigation and any developments in the meantime.
That's the primary reason for the media contact question. Perhaps renewed interest in the case could get LE to reexamine the evidence. The answer could be as simple as running prints or checking DNA.
I do have a question for anyone familiar with the area...How remote was the area where she was found? It was indicated at the time that she must have been placed into the water near where she was found, due to the stream being debris-filled further upstream. If she were in the water soon after she was taken, is there any reason to believe she should have been located earlier? (In other words, is the area so remote that only someone visiting the stream would have found her).
shadow...White Oak Creek (the dump site) isn't on a "main" road, nor is it "right off" off a main road. Whoever dumped that child there knew Dinwiddie County extremely well. And the dump site is at least 30 miles or so from Christie's apartment. Back then, there was NOTHING there for miles. Assuming this happened at night, you'd NEVER get there in the dark unless you knew that area like the back of your hand. I'm trying to get you a photo of the area where she was found that you can make out....I'll post it here for ya.
If you call LE they're probably going to go "who?" You need to talk to the retired cops, the old timers. I'm trying to get some numbers from family. I'm related to most of them.
Chester was a super small community back then but Chester always had virtually no crime rate and the police force was, and remains to this day a good one. I don't believe that someone "happened" to run across this child..just don't buy it...not there. Chester shut down at dark back in those days and these apartments aren't on a major road. I think back then the road dead ended at the apartments. I've got the old plot maps somewhere of my Grandfather's which will show exactly what was there...trying to locate those as well for ya.