Suspect in Doisy murder released on bond

Thursday, November 12, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 9:01 a.m. CST, Thursday, November 12, 2009

COLUMBIA — Johnny Wright is out of jail, and family members of the woman he's accused of killing aren't happy.

Wright, 65, who is charged with second-degree murder in connection to the 1976 disappearance of Becky Doisy, was released on bond Friday.

Shortly after Wright’s Friday hearing, family members from St. Louis and Georgia put up $10,000 in cash, which is 10 percent of the total bond amount of $100,000. The bond was set in 1985 when the case was filed.

Kathy Doisy, Becky Doisy’s sister, found out about Wright’s release on Monday morning while talking to a victim’s advocate. She didn’t think the bail was high enough.

“To me, that didn’t seem like much money when you’re talking about someone who had successfully evaded police for 25 or 30 years,” Doisy said.

But Wright’s lawyer has been adamant about his client's innocence and insisted he would appear at his Dec. 11 hearing.

“He’s not a danger to anyone,” St. Louis attorney Cleveland Tyson said. “He’s a 65-year-old gentleman who has no reason not to show up. He wants to get this behind him. And it’s in his best interest to clear his name and live the rest of his life in peace.”

Wright was the last person seen with Becky Doisy before her disappearance in 1976. He was arrested in Lawrenceville, Ga., in September when he underwent a background check for a job. Tyson said Wright had spent most of the last two decades living in Georgia, working blue-collar jobs and raising a family.

Tyson declined to comment about reports that Wright had been living under an assumed name.

“I would ask that people be cautious about jumping to conclusions why he would do that,” Tyson said. “Understand that it took nine years for (the murder charge) to come to fruition. … He was trying to start a new life without looking over his shoulder, without people talking behind his back.”

Boone County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Hicks also could not confirm that Wright had an alias nor that there was proof Wright knew about the warrant out for his arrest. Hicks said he couldn't request a higher bond because the evidence against Wright is the same now as it was in 1985 — if not weaker, since so much time has passed.

“He has now retained a pretty expensive, reputable attorney out of the St. Louis area,” Hicks said. “Maybe he’s ready to address this. I think he may show up — no, I look for him to show up. But if he doesn’t, am I gonna be shocked? Well, no, I’m never shocked by anything I see anymore."

Hicks paused and said, “We’ll give him a chance to show.”

Reporter Matt Willman contributed to this report.

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