Missing California man was killed over DUI grudge, prosecutor says

A Northern California man who disappeared five years ago was killed because of a long-simmering grudge over a DUI crash, the Sacramento County prosecutor said.

Raymond Wright. (Family photo via Rocklin Police Department)
Raymond Wright. (Family photo via Rocklin Police Department) 

Raymond Wright’s body has never been found, but a jury last week convicted two men of first-degree murder, said a press release Monday from the district attorney’s office.

One of the defendants, Robert Manor, had been injured along with his wife in a 2011 car crash. The other driver, Wright, was found guilty of driving under the influence and served jail time. Manor “held a grudge” for years, the DA’s account said, and “put his plan for revenge into motion in 2018.”

On Jan. 11, 2018, Wright — then 55, and the divorced father of three — was last heard from shortly before leaving the Rio Linda workshop he used for his contracting business. Two days later, his concerned brother went to Wright’s home in Rocklin, in neighboring Placer County, and encountered a stranger inside; the intruder fled. The family reported the incident to police, and a missing-person case was opened.

Ten days after Wright disappeared, his pickup truck was found at an apartment complex in North Highlands, a few miles east of Rio Linda.

That same week, on Jan. 27, 2018, a California Highway Patrol officer pulled over a drunk-driving suspect, Victor Merle Gray, and found a bloody raincoat and items belonging to Wright. The blood was Wright’s; Gray’s DNA matched that on a drink straw left by the stranger in the Rocklin home.

Further investigation uncovered correspondence in which Gray told Robert Manor he needed to be paid for “delivering dude” in what was apparently a revenge plot.

The jury on March 17, 2023, announced guilty verdicts for Manor and Gray on charges of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of murder during a kidnapping, as well as kidnapping for ransom causing death.

Sentencing is set for April 28. The maximum is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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