Guilty verdict in Doisy murder trial provides closure for detective
Johnny Wright was found guilty of second-degree murder Friday.
Feb. 01, 2011
Friday’s guilty verdict in a decades-old murder concluded a former detective’s only unresolved case in more than 22 years.
Chris Egbert, now retired from the Columbia Police Department, began investigating Becky Doisy’s disappearance in August, 1976 when she was first reported missing.
The jury unanimously agreed 66-year-old Johnny Wright was guilty of murdering Doisy in 1976. The night of her disappearance, she was last seen at the Heidelberg, and Wright’s former roommate Harry Moore testified Wright showed him Doisy’s body in the back of his car.
“He said to me, ‘Things got a bit out of hand. I had to croak this bitch’,” Moore said in a 1985 video interview with Egbert. “I looked inside his car. I saw the body covered in a blanket. She appeared to be dead. Extremely dead.”
The verdict came as a relief to Egbert and the Doisy family.
“It’s certainly rewarding to see that 12 jurors agreed with the prosecution,” Egbert said in an interview with The Maneater.
Even after his retirement in 1993, he continued following the case.
“Three or four years ago, the Columbia College’s criminal justice program had the case on a semester study,” Egbert said. “The criminal justice students that semester took that on as a cold case. They were trying to find Johnny Wright or Becky Doisy.”
Following Doisy’s disappearance, Egbert said he did everything he could to find her, including digging up holes and searching on horseback.
“We even used psychics,” Egbert said in his testimony Thursday.
Because Wright began using a different name and social security number, there were few new leads in the case, even though Egbert hadn’t given up the search.
In 2009, Wright requested a background check in Georgia, so he could apply for a job. Police discovered he had an outstanding warrant and arrested him.
Once Wright was found, Egbert became one of the trial’s key witnesses. Egbert was questioned by the state on the first day of the trial and was cross-examined the following day. He was present each day of the trial.
“The only thing I really regret is we were never able to find Rebecca Doisy’s body,” Egbert said. “That’s kind of disheartening.”
The verdict was met with tears from Doisy’s family, including her sister, Kathy Doisy, who testified on Wednesday and Thursday. She repeatedly thanked Egbert for his involvement in the case.
“All the hours and days and years worth of work that I put in on that case was all worth every minute of that time when they returned the verdict and I saw the look on Kathy Doisy’s face,” Egbert said. “It was a look of elation, I believe. It was a look of relief. Finally, the Doisy family has gotten somewhat of a closure to this.”