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Monday, September 6, 2010

Memphis Murder Mystery

Here are the facts. In the very early hours of July 19th, 2010, Lorenzen Wright was shot at least 12 times. July 28th his body was found in a wooded area off a road in southeast Memphis which was a regular short cut route that Lorenzen used whenever he was going to his mother's house. It is also a fact that Lorenzen's mother filed a missing person report with the police on July 22. However these are about the only absolute facts surrounding this case. Rumor, innuendo and conjecture have elevated this case to a new high and throughout it all the one name that is constantly bandied about in all of the rumors is that of Lorenzen's ex-wife, Sherra Wright.
If you poll the people who actually knew Lorenzen Wright the one common thread would be the fact that he loved his 6 children above all else. If you poll the general public about what they know of Lorenzen, you won't hear that he was a druggie or a dog fighter or a woman beater. You will hear that he loved his kids, he loved his parents, he loved his hometown of Memphis, TN and he loved basketball. You might also hear that since an injury to his hand which prevented him from playing his beloved sport, he has fallen on some hard times financially.
Lorenzen Wright didn't come from a drug and/or alcohol addicted family. He came from a hard working middle class family who tried to stay as far away from crime as possible. Lorenzen's father was a coach at a local school. During a game a fight broke out and Mr. Wright broke it up and threw the offender out of the gym. The offender came back with a gun and shot Mr. Wright. His injuries left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Still, it was Mr. Wright who coached Lorenzen and helped him develop the amazing skills at the game that would eventually get him to the professional level.
I don't know how or when Lorenzen and Sherra Wright met, fell in love and married. What I do know is that they separated for good around September or October, 2009 and their divorce was final sometime in late January or early February 2010. Lorenzen was ordered to pay well over $20,000 a month in child support for his 6 children with Sherra. According to Sherra's divorce attorney (Gail Mathis) the one and only payment he made was in November, 2009. She does, however, admit that Lorenzen has been giving Sherra money here and there since that time but had not actually been paying the full amount every month as ordered by the Court. At time of his death it was rumored that he had a job playing with an European team and was to leave for Europe after the summer to begin training. Things were beginning to look up for Lorenzen.
He had all of his children for most of the summer at his home in Atlanta this year. His oldest daughter had a beauty contest that she couldn't miss so he asked his best friend and room mate, Michael Gipson, to drive his kids back to Memphis so his daughter could attend the pageant and then he had planned to fly into Memphis a few days later to pick them up again and head back to Atlanta. Michael reported that Lorenzen delayed him from leaving Atlanta with the kids for nearly half an hour because Lorenzen insisted on kissing each of the kids goodbye and chatting with them before they left. He also stated that during their drive back to Memphis, Lorenzen kept the cellphone ringing as he kept checking in on them to make sure everything was okay.
Now we are into the unknown area. This part of the "story" gets muddled with rumor and conjecture. It has been said by several sources that when Lorenzen came to Memphis to pick up his kids he had his new girlfriend, Alexis Bradley, with him. It has been said that he dropped her off at his mother's house and then went over to his ex-wife's house the night of his murder. Reliable sources state that it was Lorenzen's intention to pick the children up at 8:00 a.m. on July 20th and then drive back to Atlanta.
So why would he go to Sherra's house the night before? Rumor has it, she called him and talked him into coming over late in the evening so they could talk while the kids were asleep.
Sherra's story about this final night of Lorenzen's life changes every time she tells it. She first says Lorenzen arrived around 11:00 p.m., they talked until around 2:00 a.m. and then he left but she didn't know what he was driving. Then he arrived around 11:00 p.m. with another man whom she did not know and they chatted until around 3:30 or so and then he left but she didn't see what he was driving. Next, it was he came over around 11:00 p.m. and they had sex and she went to sleep and sometime while she was sleeping, he left but still she didn't know what he was driving. Note: The 911 call that Lorenzen made as he was being murdered came into the call center shortly before midnight.
I have seen Sherra Wright's house in Collierville, TN (a suburb of Memphis). It is one of those newer homes that is shaped in an "L" with the double garage sticking out from the body of the house in the front. In order to park in the driveway or the garage, one would have to drive past the windows on the entire front of the house and park directly in front of the front door. I'm talking maybe 2 feet from the entrance to the house.
Sherra moved into this house after she and Lorenzen separated. She and Lorenzen had been having a rather difficult divorce. Am I to believe that Lorenzen had a key to her house? Am I to believe that he didn't pull up and park in front of the door and then ring the doorbell? If he did, then when she opened the door, not only would she see Lorenzen but she would see the vehicle he was in as well as anyone who might have been sitting in that vehicle waiting on him. It would be impossible not to. Also, since in every story, she has him arriving after the kids are in bed, she would have been the only person to answer the door.
Whichever story you believe, there's two common catches with all of them. First she never mentions that he was driving her van while he was in town and secondly she never states in any of her stories that she and Lorenzen decided to postpone him coming the next morning at 8:00 a.m. to pick up the kids. So why is it when he didn't show she didn't start making some phone calls to try to find him? I only have 2 kids but I know that when they were young and their father was supposed to come get them at 8:00 a.m. if he didn't get there by 8:30 a.m., I was on the phone to him, his mother, his father, his best friend, anyone and everyone who might be able to tell me where he was and why he wasn't at my house to get his kids as promised! Yet, she didn't do any of this.
His mother, finally filed a missing persons report on the 22nd of July. Rumor has it, Sherra told Mr. Wright that Lorenzen had gone to Europe on a vacation so is that what she did? She simply told the kids and Lorenzens friends/family that he had changed his mind? Also, this part of the story makes me believe that he didn't have Alexis with him because if he had, the whole "he changed his mind and decided to go to Europe on vacation" thing would have lasted a minute instead of lasting 3 days because it is highly doubtful that anyone would believe he just flew to Europe leaving Alexis stranded at his mother's house.
Let's get to the other reasons as to why Sherra is in the proverbial hot seat in this case.
The druglords and death threats. Once Lorenzen was listed as a missing person, Sherra suddenly remembers a weird thing happening. She tells the police that approximately 6 weeks prior to his disappearance, 3 large black men come to her door demanding to know where Lorenzen is. According to Sherra, Lorenzen owed these druglords LOTS of money for fronting drugs to Lorenzen.
She stated to the police that they identified themselves to her as druglords and that they carried guns on their persons. She further adds drama to the story by stating that they threatened her children if she told anyone that they had come by. Really. I think most normal mothers having experienced this would have packed her kids up in the van and headed to the police station. At a minimum, a normal mother would have called his parents and told them that the kids had been threatened. But did she do that? Did she tell anyone about this? Nope. Or at least not until after Lorenzen became a missing person. According to Sherra the only people she told were Lorenzen and her divorce attorney.
Missing person report. Why is it Lorenzen's mother was the one to file the missing person report? One would think that the mother of his children would be the first to realize something was amiss when he neither came to pick the kids up at the arranged time or even to call. Also why would Sherra even try to talk his mother out of filing a police report? She tried every trick in the book to keep anyone from filing a report. Everything from he went on vacation to he was suicidal and just wanted to be alone.
Sherra's new boyfriend. Many people have surmised that Sherra had him killed because he had moved on with his romantic life and found a younger prettier girlfriend. I doubt that. I think this was all about the money. Besides Sherra had a boyfriend. And apparently the boyfriend and Lorenzen had not gotten along well. There is a story about when Lorenzen came at the beginning of the summer to get his children, the boyfriend was there and a few words were exchanged. The boyfriend allegedly went outside and scratched Lorenzens car at which time Lorenzen soundly decked the guy. Bit of bad blood there?
The Barber. First it is reported that while the police were investigating Lorenzen as a missing person, his barber contacts them to tell them that during the time frame that Lorenzen is thought to be missing, he had come into the barbershop to get his hair cut. He was in the company of another man whom the barber refused to identify but would say was of a questionable character. Now Lorenzen was last seen on a Tuesday and the barber insisted Lorenzen came into his shop that following Saturday right at opening when there were no other customers in the shop. Conveniently, once Lorenzens body was found and identified the barber changed his story to say it was before he went missing. His bad. I can see where a person might get a Saturday confused with a Monday. Can't you?? The rumor mill has it that Mr. Barberman was close friends with Sherra's new boyfriend. It also states that Mr. Barberman is DEEP in financial troubles not only with his business but because he apparently has multiple children with multiple women and is into multiple child support payments totaling a hefty monthly amount.
Neighbors. More than one neighbor reported to the police that they heard, on numerous occasions, Sherra either outside in the front yard or walking up and down the street, screaming into her cellphone to Lorenzen about money issues. "Where's my check?" type of calls. One neighbor reports that on one occasion she and Sherra were going to their mailboxes at the same time and when Sherra apparently didn't find a check in hers, she whipped out her cellphone and called Lorenzen. The conversation that followed was loud, abusive and threatening.
Another neighbor reported that on the night Lorenzen was killed, she saw Sherra with two black men holding a rather animated conversation in her front yard very late at night.
The fire-pit. Yet another neighbor stated that around 4:00 a.m. the night Lorenzen was killed, she peered over the privacy fence that separated their houses to see Sherra dropping objects into her fire-pit. She stated the flame was so tall that initially she thought Sherra's house might be on fire. This was one of the hottest nights of the entire year so why would Sherra even entertain starting a fire in her pit if she wasn't trying to destroy evidence? Also, why at 4:00 a.m. for any reason?? A source close to the investigation tells me that when the police searched the fire-pit behind Sherra's house, they did find a melted cellphone but have not positively identified it as having belonged to Lorenzen.
The guns. Apparently Lorenzen and Sherra had 3 guns between them. Lorenzen had 2 and Sherra had 1. Lorenzen's guns are accounted for. Sherra's gun has somehow mysteriously disappeared.
Suicide Theory. When Lorenzen was considered a missing person, Sherra apparently tried to convince his mother and other friends/family that it was possible that Lorenzen had committed suicide. I would say 12 bullets to the head is a bit of a suicide overkill.
Insurance. A source very close to the family has told me that although Lorenzen was having financial difficulties he made sure that his extremely large insurance policy was always paid on time. His children were the sole beneficiaries of that policy. Let's see now. Sherra is not getting her fat check regularly and her fat lifestyle is about to suffer because of it. She has to berate Lorenzen on a regular basis to get any money at all. Lorenzen has a big policy that will give her children a few million if Lorenzen dies. Solution to problem here??
The former personal assistant. Wendy Wilson at one time was a personal assistant to Lorenzen. Apparently the difficulties between Sherra and Lorenzen dated back some years. Lorenzen had made it a habit to record all calls in or out with Sherra and he had given the tapes to Wendy for safe keeping. When Wendy listened to the tapes, she told Lorenzen and his parents that they should go to the police because Sherra had made numerous threats on them. When Lorenzen didn't go to the police, Wendy did. She filed a police report. After Lorenzen's body was found, Wendy went public with the tapes and again went to the police about them.
However, her good deed did not go unpunished. According to www.myfoxmemphis.com, She has filed a lawsuit against three people, Commercial Appeal columnist Geoff Calkins, blogger and radio host Thaddeus Matthews and attorney Gail Mathes. According to Wendy, Thaddeus Matthews gave her personal cellphone number out on both his blog and his radio show which resulted in hundreds of calls to it that were harassing and threatening in nature. It would appear that Sherra has formed a bit of a retaliation group in Memphis. They use smear and fear tactics to back down those who might hold a piece of the puzzle IF that piece doesn't bode well for Sherra.

The van and his personal possessions. Lorenzen was using Sherra's van while he was in town. Neighbors reported seeing him drive up in her van. They reported seeing him leave in the van a few minutes later. Then in the morning, the van's still there?? Hmmm. Sherra reported to the police that she didn't know what vehicle he was driving or if he was in some other person's car with them. Also, Lorenzen's wallet was found at Sherra's house along with another of his cellphones.
Box of drugs and cash. The day before they found Lorenzen's body Sherra told the police that on the night of his murder he came to her house with a box filled with drugs and cash. He took it with him when he left. My sources tell me that the box did indeed exist but it was filled only with drugs (no cash) and that it belonged to SHERRA. Lorenzen was taking it to dispose of it because he didn't want drugs in his house around his children. A box filled with drugs would be one reason to kill someone don't you think? Sherra needed to get that box filled with drugs and would probably do whatever necessary to get it back. Especially if the drugs were on consignment. Very bad things happen to people who take the drugs and never bring the money to their supplier. Or maybe the drugs belonged either to the boyfriend or Mr. Barberman? Either way, it would not be a happy ending if Sherra allowed the drugs to be destroyed by Lorenzen. Another absurdity to this story is the assertion by Sherra that Lorenzen brought the box filled with cash and drugs into her house and showed it to her. From what I've been able to gather, they weren't exactly close best friends at the time of his death.
The night Lorenzen died a 911 call was made from his cellphone a little before midnight. The operator heard a man utter an expletive and then heard at least 10 gunshots before the call was disconnected. When they found Lorenzens body they did not find the cellphone with it. What they did find was his very expensive jewelry/watch still on his body and a large amount of cash still in his pocket.
Custody fight. Let's assume for a second for the sake of argument that Sherra, Mr. Barberman and Sherra's boyfriend were the culprits in this murder. Lorenzen is lured to Sherra's house (he told his mother before he left her house that he was headed over to Sherra's so this part of the story is undoubtedly true). He fights with her about money and he tells her he is going back to his mother's house and will see her in the morning. Rumor has it that Lorenzen had planned to take the children back to Atlanta and was then going to file for full custody of them. The rumor states that Sherra had fallen into a very rough crowd and was using drugs on a regular basis. It was Lorenzen's plan to get the kids to Atlanta, file for custody in Georgia and then cut all ties with Sherra. This particular rumor holds a lot of weight with me because it is coming to me from friends of the Wright family.
What if during their heated argument, Lorenzen let that fly? What if he told her to have the kids stuff ready tomorrow because they are coming with me to Georgia and I'm going to get full custody of them? People tell things they never should when they are mad. This could easily have happened. Then he storms out of the house. She calls boyfriend and Mr. Barberman. Or perhaps she didn't have to call them. Perhaps they were at her house the whole time? Boyfriend and Mr. Barberman get in their car and chase after Lorenzen. Doesn't matter if they are chasing him because he has the box of drugs or has threatened to take the kids (thus effectively ending any cash cow they had) or a combination of both.
They catch up to him on the shortcut he always used to get to his mothers house and they convince him to pull over. Men do stupid stuff in the heat of the moment. A woman would never pull over on that isolated stretch of road. There are no houses or businesses on that strip of road at all. It is narrow and heavily wooded on both sides. Men however, are convinced that they can handle themselves and since he had already taken the boyfriend down a notch once in a fight, what was to convince him this fight wouldn't end the same way? He probably didn't even realize that Mr. Barberman was in the car with the boyfriend.
Lorenzen stops the car and leaps out of it and heads back to boyfriends car intent on having it out with him. Then he sees boyfriend isn't alone AND boyfriend has a gun - Sherra's gun. Lorenzen calls 911 on his cellphone and before he could cry for help, boyfriend unloads the gun on his head and then they drag him out of the road and beyond the treeline to a field where they take his cellphone, one of them drives Sherra's van and they go back to Sherra's house where the neighbor gets a look at the three of them having a very animated discussion in the front yard. After they leave, Sherra starts a fire in her fire-pit and burns the cellphone and probably their bloodied shirts.
She then has to "cover her tracks" so she tells the kids and Mr. Wright that Lorenzen changed his mind and decided at the last minute to go to Europe for a little vacation. She starts talking about the druglords and how Lorenzen didn't pay his child support. She tried to convince people that it was Lorenzen not her, who was involved in illegal activity and hooked on drugs. She implies that perhaps he went off to commit suicide? She smeared his character and reputation as much as she could to shove the focus off of her and onto Lorenzen. After the police search her home, she gets a criminal attorney and refuses to cooperate any further with the police to find the killer of her children's father. Within weeks of his death, she moves closer to Lorenzen's mother's house supposedly so she could help her cope with her grief.
Memphis has had its fair share of murder mysteries during its long history. This one, at least to me, is really no mystery. People always say don't listen to rumors. I'm here to say rumors and old wives tales usually have their origin in some grain of truth. You just have to take all of them and sit them next to the facts that are known and the next thing you know, a truth will emerge. Like that old saying "where's there's smoke there's fire".
Sherra, the boyfriend and Mr. Barberman may all be completely innocent of any involvement in this murder. However, they still should not sleep too soundly. There are hundreds of people sitting in Prisons all over our country who have been convicted of murder where the only evidence at trial was circumstantial. There are people sitting in prison convicted of murder without a body. This trio of characters needs to be extremely proactive in assisting the police in whatever way humanly possible to find the real killer if in fact they are innocent.
The Memphis Police Department has an 80% solve rate on their murders. That's pretty impressive considering the shear volume they deal with every year. The Memphis District Attorney's office has a 95% conviction rate. These are numbers that this trio needs to take very seriously if they want to spend the rest of their lives as free citizens.
But that's just me.

UPDATE:
(As of December 7, 2017)  An arrest has been made.  The bond had been set at $1M but has since been revoked.  The man charged, Billy R. Turner, was a Deacon in the same church that Sherra Wright attended.  This man has a LONG rap sheet dating back to the early 90's.  An anonymous source, directed the police to a small lake in northern Mississippi where the murder weapon was found and from that they traced the crime back to Turner.  The article I have pasted, lists him simply as indicted but he has since been formally charged and arraigned.  He bonded out but his bond as since been revoked and as such he is now sitting in jail awaiting his trial.  
http://wreg.com/2017/12/05/sources-arrest-made-in-lorenzen-wright-case/

Another article regarding Turner's arrest:
http://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2017/12/05/lorenzen-wright-billy-turner-killing-arrest-memphis-things-know/924947001/

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very compelling and interesting post. I would like to see more of them on a regular basis.

Fiona D. said...

Great post Ernie!

Anonymous said...

Very
interesting