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Jenise Wright's parents in custody battle: Officials refuse to return kids, why?

Jenise Wright’s parents are seeking custody of their remaining children after their 6-year-old went missing in early August, turning up dead the following day. Jenise was last seen on August 2; her body was found the following day in the woods near a mobile home park where the family lived, and police arrested a 17-year-old boy who was charged with second degree murder, manslaughter and rape.

But the ordeal for the Wright’s didn’t end there. James and Denise Wright have a court appearance, set for October, to petition that their other children – ages 8, 12 and 16 – be returned to them. The kids were taken by Child Protective Services, and the reason for their removal from the home has yet to be released publicly. James and Denise are not talking either.

“We’ve been controlled about what we can say and what we can’t say. There is still an ongoing investigation so I can’t speak about it,” said James Wright.

However, uncovered the following:

A little digging into Mr. Wright’s past showed that in 2000, two young girls reported that he sexually assaulted them. An 8-year-old claimed that he touched her inappropriately, while a 16-year-old who used to babysit for the family said that he touched her breasts and put his hands down her pants.

That, coupled with the fact that the parents evidently did not realize their youngest child was gone until the following day, may explain the delay in the family being reunited.

James, who appeared in court this along with Denise week for a preliminary hearing, was asked about his children, who have been allowed to stay with grandparents. However, James and Denise cannot see them.

“Best as can be expected and thank God they're with family,” he said. “If they were in a strange home I would be even more concerned than I am now,” adding that he needs his entire family back together so they can “grieve Jenise’s death.”

Denise, who is Native American, has asked her Nooksack Tribe to intervene on their behalf in the custody dispute.

“Our culture is extremely important to us, as anybody who would have religious preferences,” James said. “That's the foundation of our country. We can't sidestep that. Culture is culture.”

Investigators arrested Gabe Gaeta, 17, in connection to Jenise’s murder.

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