MEMPHIS, TN - Memphis City Council is upping the reward to find whoever killed basketball star Lorenzen Wright. Council upped the reward by $5,000. It’s adding the Wright case to a list of unsolved crimes. Lorenzen Wright's mom is also raising reward money. Some people are questioning if the case is getting special treatment.
The Memphis Police Department comes to the Council with recommendations about cases it needs help on. This $5,000 would be paid out after an arrest and conviction in the case. The Taylor Bradford case and the Lester Street Massacre have made the list in the past. Critics say all murder cases should get this kind of treatment.
It was unanimous vote from City Council Tuesday to up the reward in the hunt for Lorenzen Wright's killer. CrimeStoppers Executive Director Buddy Chapman says it's a mysterious case. He thinks extra money will help.
“It's as if nobody really knows anything, and it's amazing, and, because as the director of CrimeStoppers, I can tell you somebody knows everything,” said Chapman.
There are now nine cases on the Council's list for extra reward money. Some Council members wonder if there should be a lot more.
“I'm not opposed to giving it if we think it will help catch more murderers and get them off the street, but I think every murder deserves, for the most part, the same amount of focus,” said City Councilman Kemp Conrad.
Comments from Eyewitness News viewers are more critical.
One viewer said:
"He was a professional basketball player with millions of dollars... Why should the tax payers of Memphis have to foot the bill for a millionaire?"
“What about the other murder victims in Memphis? Is there a large reward for their killers as well? Or is this one so high because of his celebrity status?”
Chapman sets the record straight about where the reward money comes from.
“They're not allotting extra money, that money's been in there for some 5 or 6 years,” said Chapman.
Council set aside the funds years ago for cases like this. Wright's mom, Deborah Marion is also raising reward money.
“I wish somebody would just come and man up and just do what you gotta do, tell the truth,” said Marion. “Because they're still out there.”
Chapman says there are some big donors
“I have spoken to the Grizzlies, and I think they may be adding some money to that,” said Chapman.
He says it's going to take big money.
“I'd like to see it be 50 or 100,” said Chapman. “I think with $50,000 or $100,000 we very well might generate some information.”
As for adding a lot more cases to the list:
“I would hate to see the list get overloaded, any case would, could probably benefit, but I think that personally I would be in favor of singling out some very specific cases that we want information on, that we need information on,” said Chapman.
Viewers also voiced support for the Council reward money in the Wright case.
One viewer said:
“My heart goes out to his kids. He always gave back, especially with the kids and Memphis, so Memphians shouldn't mind helping out someone we used to call our hero."
Wright's case wasn't the only one added to the Council's list for extra reward money. Members also voted to add the 1992 murder of a liquor store owner who was shot and killed during a robbery.
The Council also ordered a pay out of the reward money in the Lester Street Massacre case. Cecil Dotson Jr. led cops to his uncle Jessie Dotson, now convicted and on death row. Council will give $5,000 to the Dotson children's trust fund Wednesday afternoon.