EAST BREMERTON — A memorial of balloons, candles, cards, flowers and stuffed animals grew Aug. 8 at the entrance to Steele Creek Mobile Home Park.
This neighborhood was still coming to grips with the news that the body of a 6-year-old neighbor girl, Jenise Paulette Wright, was found in a nearby forest the previous day. On this day, as the investigation into Jenise’s death continued and sheriff’s deputies monitored vehicles going in and out of the mobile home park, Lydia Espinoza and her six children did the only thing they felt they could do.
They gathered at the memorial, lit candles, held hands, and prayed.
Others prayed too or left prayer messages behind. “Be at peace and joy in God’s loving arms, Jenise,” one message read. “God, bring comfort to the living.” Some messages referred to Jenise as an angel.
Espinoza said Jenise and her youngest children attended Cottonwood Elementary School together; Jenise would have started first grade in September. “She was pretty excited about that,” Espinoza said. And Jenise was often at her house.
That’s what was unsettling, in retrospect, to Espinoza. Jenise and other neighborhood kids played outside a lot. Residents regularly stroll the neighborhood or walk their pets. And yet, no one saw her out that day on Aug. 3.
In fact, at 2 p.m. that day, a Sunday, Espinoza gathered her kids to take them out to eat. Jenise was not with them.
“Normally, she would be,” she said. “My heart tells me that she was taken through the night.”
Investigators were still seeking information on Aug. 8 to put together a timeline of Jenise’s whereabouts. They had been unable to confirm sightings of Jenise the day she was reported missing.
Espinoza described Steele Creek Mobile Home Park as a pretty nice neighborhood, where neighbors keep an eye out for each other. She said she moved from a neighborhood in Suquamish where she didn’t feel so safe.
Now, since Jenise’s disappearance and death, those feelings of insecurity have returned.
A public vigil was scheduled on Aug. 8, 6 p.m., nearby at Crossroads Neighborhood Church, 7555 Old Military Road NE, Bremerton.
Top: A Kitsap County Sheriff's Office deputy talks to the driver of a vehicle at the entrance to Steele Creek Mobile Home Park Aug. 8. Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said patrol deputies will maintain a uniformed presence at the entrance to Steele Creek Mobile Home Park, for the next several days, to assure park residents that their privacy is respected as best as practical. Kipp Robertson / Herald
Above: Items from the memorial for Jenise Wright at the entrance to Steele Creek Mobile Home Park. Kipp Robertson / Herald