Woman still missing after 17 years

Published 12:39 am Saturday, April 23, 2011

Janice Wright was only 34 when she disappeared in November 1993.

Her four children didn’t know what to do. Daughter Keturah Wright was only 14 at the time.

“It was just highly irregular for her to not come home,” Keturah said from her Portsmouth home Thursday. “She was missing for about a week before we filed the report. We were children. We didn’t know what to do.”

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Janice Wright never returned home. Her daughter only wants to find out what happened.

Janice was a loving mother who loved to cook, make quilts, re-upholster furniture and play cards. She frequently took walks around Driver, where the family lived at the time.

“She was a free spirit,” Keturah said. “She used to love to have fun.”

But there was a dark side, too. Janice was involved in a bitter custody battle with a boyfriend over Keturah’s younger brother. The couple fought often, Keturah said.

Then, in early November of 1993, Janice was gone.

“It was like she was a ghost,” Keturah said. “She just vanished.”

After Keturah and her siblings filed the missing persons report, few leads were discovered, Keturah said. As time marched on, the case turned cold. Now, it’s one of a stack of unsolved cases that fall under the purview of Suffolk’s Cold Case Unit.

“I still actively pursue her case,” Keturah said. She calls Suffolk Police Det. G.D. Myrick at least once a month.

“It’s been 17 years, and I just can’t let it go.”

Keturah hopes she will one day discover what happened to her mother, but she’s trying to be realistic.

“It’s an old case,” she said. “Any evidence we could have had is probably gone.”

Keturah doesn’t remember the last time she saw her mother.

“I try hard to try to remember,” she said. She does remember that one of the last times she saw her, she was riding in a car that came upon her mother walking.

“In order to get through high school and college, I had to repress a lot of things,” Keturah said. “It’s anyone’s worst nightmare for your mother to be home one day and gone the next.”

Asked what she thinks happened, Keturah said she believes her mother is deceased.

“I don’t believe she’s with us,” she says in a soft voice. “She would never leave us. In my heart, I know she’s deceased. I just need her to come back to us.”

Keturah doesn’t think much about whoever could be responsible for her mother’s disappearance. She just wants her mother back.

“God will have His way with them,” she said. “But my family needs closure. She deserves a proper burial, if she is deceased. She deserves justice.”

To provide information on this or any cold case, call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP. Callers to Crime Line never have to give their names or appear in court, and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.