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Son wants answers after investigation reveals new info in mom's 'accidental' death

Wendy Wright killed in 2020 fire
Posted at 3:02 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 11:32:49-05

WICKLIFFE, Ohio — The son of a Lake County woman killed in a fire wants answers after recently-filed court documents seem to question investigators' initial claims that Wendy Wright's death was the result of an accident.

Investigators said Wright died following a fire at her friend's Wickliffe apartment in October 2020.

An autopsy found the 54-year-old was burned over 96% of her body.

"They were immediately just saying it was an accident to me," said Wendy Wright's son Robert. "They didn’t really tell me there was anything further being investigated so we kind of went from there."

But recently-filed court documents seem to question the claim that the fire was an accident.

Court records show the woman who police said rented the apartment and was inside with Wendy Wright when the fire began has a previous conviction for aggravated arson.

According to a police report in 2007, the woman set fire to her Fairport Harbor apartment after she was threatened with eviction.

In a sworn statement, a Wickliffe police detective wrote that weeks before the fire that killed Wright, the woman's landlord said she would not be renewing the woman's lease.

"There’s a lot of stuff that I don’t believe are just coincidences," said Robert Wright.

According to court records, when police questioned the woman about the 2020 fire, she admitted starting it by accidentally dropping a cigarette on the futon where Wright was found.

Since the woman had not been charged in connection with the fire that killed Wendy Wright, we've chosen not to name her.

"Regardless of if you meant to or not, there’s some responsibility there," said Wright. "And I think that she needs to take responsibility and something needs to be done."

Both Wickliffe police and the Lake County prosecutor declined to answer questions about the investigation because they said the case is ongoing.

But 16 months after the fire, Robert Wright said there are daily reminders of his mother's death.

"The person I dislike the most, I would never want them to even go through what I went through, let alone suffer in that way," said Wright.

Now, he worries his mother's death will, in his words, get swept under the rug.

It's something he's determined not to let happen. Wright believes that after more than a year, he and his family deserve answers about what really happened that October morning.

"I do, I worry that it’s essentially just going to fade away and nothing will come of it," said Wright.

Through an attorney, the woman who police said admitted starting the fire declined a request for an interview.

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