It was a twisted road, filled with pole dances and drugs for a young couple that was about to join on a path that ended with the murder of one of them.
Susan Lucille Wyche was a beautiful, blonde 21-year-old the day she met Jeff Wright. They were both in love after their first date, each without knowing the others darkest secrets.
Susan, shortly after graduating high school, had spent eight weeks working as an exotic dancer. When she’d grown tired of topless dancing, Susan used the money she earned to enroll in a nursing program at a community college and found a job at a hair salon. School, according to Susan, became too time consuming and expensive so she quit.
Jeff, alternatively, had spent his teen years and adulthood partying with friends, binging on alcohol and cocaine but as his thirtieth birthday quickly approached, Jeff had been thinking more about settling down with a wife and kids. And after he met her, he believed Susan was “the one.”
Everything was falling into place for Susan and Jeff. Although they each knew they wanted to be with the other forever, no one had really spoken the words just yet. But when Susan announced a few months into their relationship that she was pregnant, Jeff knew it was time to take the plunge.
Two weeks later Jeff and Susan were married in a small ceremony just outside of Houston, Texas.
It was Fall 1998.
Old Habits Die Hard
After Jeff and Susan’s son Bradley Wright was born, the couple bought a home on Berry Tree Drive in the White Oaks subdivision in the Cypress-Fairbanks section of Houston. Susan, even through the pregnancy and birth of a daughter, kept the outside neat and tidy by growing and tending to the flowers and shrubs. Jeff had recently dug out a section of patio off the screened in porch where, when he found time, he intended to install a fountain.
On the surface, things seemed perfect but chaos was brewing underneath.
Four years into the marriage, Jeff wasn’t partying as much as he once had but he still enjoyed tying one on every now and again. Susan hated it when he was high because Jeff was too aggressive, with her and with the children. She would later tell stories of being kicked, punched, and slapped during Jeff’s coke-fueled rages.
It irritated Jeff to no end that Susan constantly nagged about his drug use. He was a grown man and entitled to do as he pleased. After all, Susan knew he enjoyed partaking of the drugs when she married him – so why should he stop now?
Susan was growing weary of it. She loved Jeff and didn’t really believe in divorce, but she was so very tired. This nightmare had to end.
And it was going to, one way or another. But another one was about to begin.
Wright and Wrong
On the evening of January 13, 2003, Jeff was riding another cocaine high. As he played with Bradley, doing their play-fighting, Jeff had hit his son a little too hard in the face. Bradley began crying and Jeff was sure another lecture from Susan was about to be unleashed. He was glad when she seemed not to have noticed and kicked back to enjoy the last few hours of his high.
After the kids had been tucked into bed and were sound asleep, Jeff was a little surprised to look up and see Susan standing in the doorway of their bedroom wearing only a silk bathrobe. She didn’t have to speak a single word for Jeff to turn off the television and get off the couch.
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When Jeff entered the bedroom, he found the room aglow with red candles and soft music playing in the background. As the couple began to kiss, caress, and undress, Susan suggested that Jeff lay down on the bed. With cocaine buzzing through him, Jeff became even more excited when Susan began to slowly and seductively tying each of his limbs to the bed’s headboard and footboard.
Once Jeff was naked and spread-eagle, Susan put her plan to end the abuse into action.
First, she took one of the candles and, after kissing her husband’s chest, poured the wax on his inner thigh. Jeff yelped and struggled to get free but couldn’t because of the bindings.
Next, Jeff suddenly felt a horrible pain in his groin. Struggling to break free and see in the dim lights, he watched as his wife brought forward a knife while holding his “member” in her hand. It dawned on Jeff that Susan had cut him in the worst place with a knife that had obviously been in the room all evening and he knew, then and there, things were only going to get worse.
He was right.
Susan began telling her husband that, although she had been meek in the past, she was tired of his abuse and now she was in charge. With anger dripping from her voice, Susan again sliced at Jeff’s penis. Jeff screamed in pain. Susan gave it another nick of the knife.
Jeff broke out into a cold sweat and frantically tried to figure out how he was going to get out of this and get to a hospital when, without warning, Susan suddenly spun around to face him and raised the knife over her head. As Susan shook with rage and Jeff struggled to break free, she began stabbing her husband over and over again.
Crying and stabbing, Susan shouted out every injustice her husband had ever committed against her and the children. Emboldened by violence, which to Susan was righting the wrongs, she stabbed her husband again and again and again.
Jeff had been dead for quite some time before Susan, her rage finally spent after 193 blows, dropped the bloody knife onto the bed and silently slid off the bed to the floor.
Covering Up Murder Becomes A Chore
Susan sat on the floor for a while, coming to terms with what she had done. But it was time to start taking care of business because Susan didn’t want to go to prison for murder.
Steeling herself for the task at hand, Susan flipped on the bedroom light. She’d expected it to be messy but she was astonished at the amount of blood everywhere. It was on the walls, the floor, the furniture – everywhere! Susan nearly became overwhelmed with panic, but she pulled herself together and went to shower.
Then Susan went to work.
First things first, she called her in-laws 150 miles away in Austin. She cried as she told them that earlier in the evening Jeff had returned home from boxing lessons in a rage. She said he’d taken out his anger on her and Bradley. Ron and Kay Wright were shocked at what they were hearing and asked to speak to their son. Susan told them they couldn’t because Jeff had stormed out of the house and left. Susan said she was certain Jeff had left her for good. When her mother and father-in-law asked what had set him off, Susan replied, rather frankly, “Drugs” and proceeded to tell them about the cocaine and marijuana and the debt he’d run up trying to keep up with his habit. It was the first the couple had heard about their son using drugs since he’d married four years ago.
For a little more than an hour, Susan ranted and cried to Jeff’s parents about the problems between she and her husband but, when it was all over, Susan still had more to do; Jeff’s body still lay dead and bloody in the master bedroom.
What to do, what to do.
After a little while, Susan decided she would use the hole Jeff had dug for the fountain to bury his body. Finally getting momentum by grabbing his ankles, Susan drug him through the house to the patio, then pushed him into the grave Jeff had unknowingly dug for himself. Rigor mortis was setting in, however, and making fitting him into the hole a more difficult task than Susan had imagined. After cramming him in, she began scooping the dirt over the top of him; just as the sun was starting to come up. Susan realized it wasn’t a very good place to bury the body, but it would have to do for now.
Back in the house, Susan began cleaning up the blood beginning with the path of blood from the bedroom to the patio. She put the bloody sheets into a garbage bag and tossed the bloody mattress into the backyard while trying to figure out what to do with it later. Then she loaded the kids into the car and ran a couple of errands, including stopping by the hardware store to pick up a couple of gallons of paint. Every spare moment between caring for the kids and the dog, Susan worked at cleaning up the crime scene.
When she was done, Susan looked around the room. Except for the huge bleach spot on the carpet, which she was sure she could explain away if ever asked, she thought everything looked normal.
But thinking and knowing are two very different things.
Dang That Dog!
After Susan’s call, Jeff’s parents had spent a sleepless night waiting for a call or a visit from their son but it never came. As morning slipped away to afternoon, the Wrights called Susan and asked if Jeffrey had ever returned home. Yes, she told them, he had returned home to collect his clothing and they had wound up in a shouting match. Jeff was so angry, Susan said, he took a bottle of bleach and shook it all over the bedroom and her clothing. This story really perplexed the Wrights and they were now even more desperate to talk with him. But again, Susan told them, Jeff had forgotten to take his cell phone.
Susan also received calls from Jeff’s boss and her neighbor. Susan told them the same story she told the Wrights. While Jeff’s employer wondered what to do about a vital employee, the neighbor encouraged Susan to file a report about the abuse with police.
After she’d told the story to several more people, Susan realized time was running out. The questions were getting more difficult to answer and before long some of these people, especially Jeff’s parents, were likely to show up. She had to do something more to get things back under control.
On Wednesday, January 15, 2003, Susan walked into Precinct 4 of the Harris County Constable’s office. There she filed a report based on the same story she told everyone else and had pictures taken of the cuts and bruises on her hand. She told police she was fearful of what would happen when her husband returned and discovered she’d reported the incident to police, so she was granted a restraining order for her and the children.
By Saturday, Susan was about break under the pressure. Everyone kept calling and their questions were becoming harder to answer. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could take this. She wished everyone would leave her alone.
In the end, it was the family’s little chow-mix dog that sent Susan over the edge. When she looked outside to the spot where Jeff’s body was buried, Susan discovered the dog had begun digging at the thin layer of potting soil she’d spread across the grave and now Jeff’s arm reached out from ground and the back of his head was exposed.
But that wasn’t the worst part, not at all.
The dog, in an effort to pull its find from its hiding place, had chewed Jeff’s hand off and now it lay like a toy on the patio.
That was the final straw. Susan couldn’t go on another day.
Bundling Kailey and Bradley into the car, Susan drove to her mother’s home a few miles away. After Susan rambled on to her mother about restraining orders, cleaning up the house, and fear that Jeff would kill her if he returned, Susan Wyche was more confused than ever. Finally, she looked at her daughter and said, “Susan, did you kill Jeff?” With a slight nod of the head, Susan Wright slumped forward and put her head on the table.
Everyone was finally going to get a straight answer about the whereabouts of Jeff Wright.
Confessions and Courtroom Theatrics
At her mother’s advice, Susan sent her children to stay with her sister Cindy while her mother scrambled to retain the services of a criminal defense attorney.
Police were notified of where they could find Jeff’s body. Although Susan believed she’d thoroughly erased any signs of the murder from the house, the police found plenty of blood, not visible to the naked eye, in the bedroom.
Susan Wright turned herself on January 24, 2003, and her trial began in February 24, 2004.
Susan took the stand in her own defense and claimed that she had killed Jeff in self-defense after he attacked her with a knife while screaming, “Die, bitch!” As an explanation of how she had come to stab him almost 200 times, Susan said that once she started she couldn’t stop because she was terrified he would kill her.
Prosecutor Kelly Siegler, on the other hand, argued that Susan’s tears were fake and that she had killed her husband in hopes of collecting on a $200,000 life insurance policy. And to drive her point home just how deliberately Susan murdered Jeff, the Wrights’ actual bed was brought into the courtroom and Siegler, along with a volunteer, re-enacted the murder for the jury; pretending to stab “the victim” all 193 times.
This courtroom scene was very dramatic and not easily forgotten by anyone who has ever witnessed it. Especially so for jurors, no doubt, who, after only five and one half hours, find Susan guilty of murder.
Susan was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for murdering her husband. But in 2005, when Misty McMichael, wife of former NFL Super Bowl Champion Steve McMichael, came forward and told of the violence and abuse she endured during her four years as Jeff Wright’s fiance, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals of Texas, in an unprecedented move, granted Susan a new sentencing hearing.
On November 10, 2010, five years was taken off Susan’s sentence, making her eligible for parole on February 28, 2014. As of this writing, Susan is incarcerated at the Hobby Unit in Marlin, Texas.
Bradley and Kailey have been adopted by Jeff’s brother, Ronald Wright, Jr. Susan, at her re- sentencing hearing, said she hopes to be released from prison and get her children back. Apparently Susan hasn’t thought of two very important points: (1) Chances are slim to none that the adoption would be reversed and (2) do her children want their mother back?
© 2016 Kim Bryan