Arrest made in murder of former Hawk Lorenzen Wright

Dec 06, 2017
Jenni Girtman/AJC
The Atlanta Hawks' Lorenzen Wright, left, works around defense from the Dallas Mavericks' Erick Dampier in a game on March 25, 2007. AJC file photo

An arrest and murder charge has been made in the 2010 death of former Hawks player Lorenzen Wright.

Billy R. Turner was arrested in Memphis on Tuesday and the 46-year old was charged with first-degree murder. Wright’s death had been a mystery since his body was discovered in the woods outside Memphis on July 28, 2010, 10 days after he was reported missing. He was 34.

“The Lorenzen Wright case has stayed in the public eye for many years,” Memphis police director Michael Rallings told the Commercial Appeal. “We said many times that we had never stopped investigating.”

A gun believed to have been used in Wright’s murder was found last month in a lake near Walnut, Mississippi and considered a major break in the case.

Wright played at the University of Memphis and then 13 NBA seasons for the Hawks, Clippers, Grizzlies, Kings and Cavaliers. The power forward played two stints with the Hawks from 1999-2001 and 2006-08. His best NBA season came with the Hawks when he averaged 12.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in 2000-01.

Turner is scheduled to be arraigned in Shelby County Criminal Court on Thursday.

Wright had been living in Atlanta and was visiting friends and his six children in Memphis when he disappeared. He had fallen on hard times with a divorce and financial trouble.

The events around his disappearance were suspicious, according to his ex-wife, Sherra Wright, in court documents at the time.

She said her ex-husband left her home the night of July 18 with drugs, returned a short time later, then left again with an unspecified amount of money, said an affidavit for a search warrant by Memphis police.

Before he left, Sherra Wright said she overheard her ex-husband on the telephone telling someone that he was going to “flip something for $110,000,” the document said. She said Wright left with an unknown person. Hours later, police dispatchers received a 911 call from Wright's cell phone and heard noises like gunshots before the call was dropped.

Wright’s body was later found in the woods and his death remained a mystery for more than seven years.