Law enforcement officers testified Monday In Chattanooga Federal Court that Wilford "Wes" Wright led them to the body of a woman that he said he had thrown off a steep bluff in the Cherokee National Forest near Reliance, Tn.
Polk County Detective Brian Fields said the body of Faith Nicole Corum was stuffed in a collapsible laundry basket and she was bound by numerous ropes and straps. Two plastic bags were tied over her head.
Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Deering, who conducted the autopsy, said the 33-year-old Ms. Corum died of blunt force injuries and asphyxiation. He said she also had toxic levels of drugs in her system, including meth and hydrocodone.
Wright and his wife, Amanda Wright, are facing charges of first-degree murder in the death of Ms. Corum in Polk County.
They appeared Monday before Federal Judge Sandy Mattice for sentencing on federal drug charges.
Detective Fields, who said he grew up with Wes Wright, said Ms. Corum's mother reported her missing on Feb. 2. He said the mother, Marcy Bennett, said she had last been seen with the Wrights about two and a half weeks earlier.
He said Ms. Bennett knew the Wrights and had worked with them. He said Ms. Corum would "party and use drugs" but the mother became concerned when she did not call after a few days.
Detective Fields said he interviewed Ms. Wright and she said she had gone to sleep around 2 a.m. and awakened at 2 p.m. the following day. She said she found Ms. Corum lying in the front room of their residence apparently dead.
She said it was decided not to call 911, but her husband began "packaging" Ms. Wright, including wrapping an air mattress around her body and tying her with bungee cords, motorcycle straps, fishing line and other cords. Ms. Wright said she could not bear to watch and went into a closet. She said he then dragged the body out of the house and into his vehicle.
The detective said Ms. Wright said her husband told her to burn all the clothes of Ms. Corum along with her cell phone and other items in a burn pile.
He said it was admitted that the Wrights and Ms. Corum had "a threesome" of sexual activity.
Detective Fields said Wes Wright told him he was lying when he related what Ms. Wright had said. He said Wright said the last time they saw Ms. Corum she was getting in a red truck with a black male and a white male.
But he said Wes Wright later volunteered to take him to the body. He said they went up Kimsey Mountain Road and stopped near a telephone pole. He said Wright said he had gotten the body out of his vehicle, then kicked it over the cliff. He told of hearing it tumble down the steep slope.
The witness said Wes Wright "became very emotional" and said "he had ruined his life." He said he was concerned about his parents finding out, noting that his father is a preacher.
He said Wright said, "Oh, God, forgive me. Oh, God, forgive me."
Detective Fields said the body was located at the bottom of the ravine. A good portion of it, including one arm, had been eaten away by animals. It was still bound in the various ropes. He said of the way the body was tied up, "I've never seen anything like it."
ATF Agent Craig Frost said records showed that Ms. Corum had been "smurfing" for the Wrights - going to drug stores to buy a key meth ingredient. He said Ms. Bennett had stated that on Jan. 20 that the couple had stopped by her house and Ms. Corum came in to ask for $10. Agt. Frost said she then went to a Rite Aid and used the money to buy pseudo-ephedrine.
He said Ms. Corum had "a lengthy relationship with the Wrights."
The agent said there was a meth lab in the Wrights' vehicle and in their house on Watts Lane at Reliance.
Dr. Deering said of the body wrap that it was "quite remarkable and different from anything I had ever seen."
He said there was enough of the body remaining that he was able to determine that she had a black eye and had suffered numerous blows to the head as well as to other parts of her body.
Dr. Deering said those blows would have occurred while she was still alive.
He also said the medical evidence showed that Ms. Corum was still alive when the plastic bags were put over her head.
The witness said the presence of both meth and hydrocodone were combining a stimulant and a depressant. He said in what some term as "speed balling" they both cause euphoria and in some respects they counteract the ill effects of each. But he said the problem occurs when one of the drugs wears off before the other one.
Ms. Corum was from McMinn County.