More than seven years after former NBA center Lorenzen Wright was found decomposing in a Memphis suburb, a suspect has been charged in his murder.
Shelby County (Tennessee) District Attorney General Amy Weirich announced Tuesday that a man named Billy Turner had been indicted on a charge of first-degree murder. Turner is being held on $1 million bail.
Wright’s murder was a mystery for many years. The 6-foot-11-inch former NBAer, who averaged 8 points per game in 13 season in the league, disappeared on July 18, 2010, only to be found in a wooded area 10 days later. The case went cold in the ensuing months and years, but last month police announced they had found the weapon allegedly used to kill Wright.
Turner’s arrest could bring some closure to a family and a community that have been reeling over Wright’s death for years. In a Sports Illustrated feature published in October 2015, Wright’s mother Deborah explained how she had taken to investigating her son’s death herself, suspecting both Memphis gangs and Wright’s wife.
Her grief is interlaced with anger and energy: She has spent the last half-decade working as an unpaid homicide investigator. Her house at the end of a middle-class cul-de-sac doubles as an evidence locker. She keeps binders filled with notes and laminated news clippings about Lorenzen’s murder. They were moved to a storage facility once she ran out of room at the house. Her lawyerlike questioning of her son’s friends and acquaintances has bruised relationships. She does not care. “I want to keep my son’s name out there, because his name came down in Memphis trash,” she says. “As long as I got blood still running warm in my body, I’m gonna be doing something. Ain’t nobody else gonna tell me when I’m tired of doing [something] for my child. Nobody, mmm mmm. I’m from Mississippi. You can’t piss in my face and tell me it’s right. I’m gonna taste that salt. They killed my child!”
Turner does not yet have a court date.