Police arrested a man Tuesday afternoon for the murder of Lorenzen Wright, more than seven years after the former NBA player’s body was found outside of Memphis. Billy Turner, 46, was charged with first-degree murder and is being held on $1 million bond.
Wright, a 6-foot-11 Memphis native, University of Memphis standout and 13-year professional player, was last heard from on July 19, 2010, during a 911 call to a dispatcher in Germantown, Tenn., shortly after midnight.
“God damn,” Wright could be heard screaming as gunshots rattled off in the background. Ten days later, police found Wright’s badly decomposed, bullet-riddled body in the woods in southeast Memphis along with shell casings from different caliber guns. He was 34 years old.
The case received a boost on Nov. 9 of this year when police in Mississippi found what they suspect to be the murder weapon in a lake about 75 miles southeast of Memphis in Walnut, Mississippi. Soon after, police offered a $21,000 reward for information about the case.
“They just called me to say they have some good news,” Wright’s mother, Deborah, told the Commercial Appeal in Memphis last month. “They said they found the murder weapon. … That’s the only thing they told me, they have the gun. They definitely found the gun.’’
Before he disappeared, Wright was at the home of his ex-wife, Sherra Robinson Wright. According to a Memphis police affidavit, Robinson Wright told police that her ex-husband made a phone call in which he said he was going to “flip something for $110,000.” Wright departed her home around 10:30 p.m. with drugs and an unspecified amount of money and left in a vehicle driven by an unidentified person.
According to Sports Illustrated, the 9-11 dispatcher did not report anything to a supervisor until eight days after she received the call from Wright with audible gunshots. Eventually the district paid Wright’s family an undisclosed sum in a legal settlement because of that error.
Wright averaged eight points and 6.4 rebounds per game while playing for five NBA teams during his career from 1996 to 2009.