Trial for murder of former MU student begins

Becky Doisy was last seen with the defendant at the Heidelberg.

Opening statements of the Becky Doisy murder trial began at 8:30 Wednesday morning. Johnny Wright, her accused killer, was apprehended in October of last year after a background check for a job in Georgia revealed an outstanding warrant for his arrest in the case.

Boone County Assistant Prosecutor Cecily Daller used the opening statements to outline a timeline of key events, the prosecution’s case. During the defense’s opening statements, attorney Cleveland Tyson said the prosecution’s case relies on circumstantial evidence and questionable testimony.

Wright was the last person to see Doisy on Aug. 5, 1976, Daller said in her opening statement. Doisy’s neighbor saw Wright and Doisy leaving her apartment building that afternoon. Wright and Doisy went to the Heidelberg, where Wright’s former roommate, Harry Moore and Moore’s former girlfriend, joined them.

Later that night, Wright arrived at a bar where he knew Moore would be. Daller said Wright asked Moore to follow him out to his car where he showed Moore Doisy’s body and confessed that things got out of hand, and he killed her.

Wright went to St. Louis the night Doisy disappeared, she said. Two days later, Doisy’s sister reported her missing after her coworkers noticed she had not shown for her morning shift as a waitress at Ernie’s Café and Steakhouse.

Cynthia Spiegel, one of Doisy’s former coworkers, came into Ernie’s the morning of Aug. 7 for breakfast and said she remembers asking where Doisy was.

“I finished breakfast, and I went over to check her apartment to see what had happened,” Spiegel said. “I remember walking toward the door, and it was cracked open a bit, which was very surprising.”

In the following weeks, until Aug. 26, investigators were unable to find Wright to be interviewed despite the media attention of Doisy’s disappearance, which reached St. Louis, Daller said in her opening statement. Wright’s blue Toyota was reported abandoned in a lot near Wright’s aunt’s house, where investigators believed he was staying.

Former Columbia Police Department Detective Chris Egbert was put in charge of the Doisy case from the beginning and investigated the abandoned car when it was reported a few days later in St. Louis. While searching the car, Egbert and another detective found cigarette butts, a poem and a map.

On the same day the car was found, Egbert investigated Wright and Moore’s house, where he didn’t find anything out of the ordinary.

“There was nothing to indicate someone had packed up to leave,” Egbert said in his testimony. “It looked like someone was still living there.”

Nothing out of the ordinary was found at Doisy’s apartment either. The only thing they found was a pad of paper with more poems, which matched the paper found in Wright’s car, Egbert said.

Wright did not want to return to Columbia to be interviewed about Doisy’s disappearance, Egbert said. Egbert and Wright met in Jefferson City on Aug. 26 at the request of Wright’s attorney. Wright appeared uncomfortable during the interview when he learned Moore had already spoken to detectives, Egbert said.

“There was a frown on his face, and he was squirming a little bit in his chair,” Egbert said. “Wright said he didn’t come forward any sooner because he was concerned about racial overtones and things of that nature.”

Later on Aug. 26, CPD received a report of shots fired at Moore and Wright’s residence, Egbert said. When the incident was investigated, evidence gathered showed that bullets were fired from the inside towards the front door.

“There were bullet holes in the front door, and the glass in the front door was broken,” Egbert said. “When we found Moore, he was extremely frightened.

Cross-examination by the defense will take place at a later date, due to an out of town witness’ testimony needed by the end of the day Wednesday. Stay with The Maneater for updates on this case.

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