Jurors hear testimony in Doisy murder trial

Becky Doisy was a former MU student last seen in The Heidelberg more than 30 years ago.
Joyu Wang / Graphic Designer

The Becky Doisy murder trial continued Thursday with retired Columbia Police Department Detective Chris Egbert’s cross-examination. Defendant Johnny Wright is on trial for the murder of former MU student Becky Doisy in 1976.

Defense attorney Cleveland Tyson began by reviewing a report written by Egbert, detailing the detective’s interview with William Simmons on June 4, 1985.

According to the report, Simmons met Wright and Harry Moore, Wright’s roommate at the time of Doisy’s disappearance, at a methadone outpatient clinic in St. Louis in 1983 to discuss the murder. In the report, Simmons said Wright told the group he had killed a woman without shooting her. When Simmons talked with Moore later, Moore said Wright had cut the woman’s throat and the two of them cleaned and hid the body, but Moore wouldn’t say where.

“There was no blood in that vehicle,” Egbert said during cross-examination. “I didn’t really believe that statement, about the throat cutting business.”

Moore was arrested in St. Louis for a traffic warrant in 1985, and he was later arrested on charges of withholding information relating to Doisy’s disappearance.

“That’s when I decided to be forthcoming,” Moore said during his testimony Thursday. “If I could have gotten out without revealing what I knew, I would’ve.”

When Egbert questioned Moore in 1985, Moore said Wright showed him Doisy’s body in the backseat of Wright’s Toyota on Aug. 5, 1976, outside Faces bar.

In a video recorded in 1985 and shown to the court Wednesday, Moore said Wright came to the bar after Wright and Doisy spent the evening together, stopping at the Heidelberg for dinner.

“He said to me, ‘Things got a bit out of hand. I had to croak this bitch’,” Moore said in the video. “I looked inside his car. I saw the body covered in a blanket. She appeared to be dead. Extremely dead.”

When contacted in 2009, Moore altered his story, saying he saw the body in the trunk of the car outside of a different bar.

“After the deposition, I went to where Faces used to be, and I knew it couldn’t have taken place there,” Moore said Thursday.

Wright went missing following the murder. He allegedly changed his name to Errol Rodney Edwards, obtained a different Social Security number and moved to Georgia.

In 2007, Wright’s driver’s license was cancelled after the Georgia Department of Driver Services noticed his Social Security number and name did not match. He then reverted back to his previous name.

On Sept. 22, 2009, Johnny Wright requested a background check so he could apply for a job as a truck driver and police discovered the applicant had an outstanding warrant.

“The morning watch officers had run a background check on him and came up with a hit on a murder warrant out of the State of Missouri,” Lawrenceville Police Department Lt. Gary Kotkiewicz said. “It was pretty unusual because the warrant was for something that occurred in 1976.”

After confirming that this was the same person, officers arrested Wright.

“I placed him in handcuffs and informed him that I was putting him under arrest,” Kotkiewicz said. “He sat down in a chair and said ‘OK.’ Didn’t argue. Didn’t try to say it wasn’t him.”

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