PENDLETON, N.Y. (WIVB) — Perhaps Christopher Wright was too cold and wet and hungry to stay out in the woods any longer.
At some point morning, he wandered home, and eventually surrendered to sheriff’s deputies a little less than a half hour before the manhunt was set to pick up again — this time with added resources.
“The content of it was, he was very upset, very sorry and wanted to end his life,” said Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour.
That’s how the 44-year-old Wright reacted when authorities cracked a weeks-long investigation into sexual abuse involving him and a minor. Voutour said the abuse happened between Wright and a young girl at his house in the 5100 block of Oakwood Drive in Pendleton.
“The victim of this case was a child,” Voutour said. “This is something we’ve been putting together for a couple of weeks. The case sort of broke yesterday with some good work that an investigator did. This is where we believe Mr. Wright felt that he’d been had, and he chose to run into the field.”
Voutour said Wright knew searchers were getting close.
“When he saw the helicopter, he hid under some brush, is what he told us,” Voutour said. “He also found a playhouse at one point that was way away from a home that he spent some time in. He was pretty much on the lam in the woods in close proximity to his house overnight.”
The search forced a lockout at the nearby Starpoint schools, where one of Wright’s children attends.
Eventually, the search was called off. And a phone call in the morning to one of Wright’s family members led them back to his house, where he surrendered just after 10:30 a.m. without further incident.
“He was very emotional, upset and crying when he was taken into custody,” Voutour said. “I was told he was pretty weathered. He was a little bit sick.”
Voutour said his deputies and other law enforcement were ready this morning to throw a variety of resources into the search, far greater than what they mobilized yesterday.
“Our timing was good reaching out to that family member. We got lucky,” Voutour said. “But luck comes when you’re prepared and the opportunity comes up, and I think both of those happened.”
Wright faces felony sexual abuse, and misdemeanor sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. He pleaded not guilty in the Town of Pendleton Court Thursday.
He was taken back to the Niagara County Jail on $100,000 cash, $200,000 property. He’s due back in court on the felony charge next week.