By Emilie St. John
INGLEWOOD — Sheriff’s homicide investigators are asking for the public’s help in identifying potential victims of sexual assaults by a former teacher who is also a homicide suspect.
Charles Wright, 57, was arrested in January in connection with the 2005 murder of Pertina Epps, 21, who was a mother of two.
According to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Hugo Reynaga, current fingerprint and DNA technology helped detectives identify Wright as the likely suspect in Epps murder. After his arrest, he posted $1 million bail the same day and immediately resigned from his teaching position with Inglewood Unified School District.
Five days after his arrest, he was linked to another crime, the 2006 sexual assault of an 18-year-old woman in Los Angeles, Reynaga said.
Wright was arrested again June 28 when he appeared in court for a hearing in the Epps murder case. He is now being held without bail and has been charged in both cases. Wright faces additional charges of aggravated kidnapping and forced copulation.
Both Epps and the woman Wright was accused of sexually assaulting were known prostitutes, and investigators say they believe Wright may have committed other crimes.
At a news conference Aug. 11, Reynaga said, “We are asking for the public’s assistance as we have strong suspicions he has victimized other sex workers.”
Authorities say Epps was strangled to death and, according to her mother, Wright was not the only suspect attached to her daughter’s murder.
“I hope they have the right person this time,” she said.
Wright vehemently denies the charges. saying fingerprint evidence linked to him was possibly due to a side business he was engaged in.
“I didn’t do this,” Wright said. “The thing is, everybody that knows me knows that I used to sell bags and clothes out of my car. … That’s the only possible way it could happen.”
He said he believes people who purchased bags from him during that time period could confirm his story.
Wright taught history and math at Monroe Middle School. He was formerly employed at Leuzinger High School.
Authorities released two images of Wright, one of him in 2005, and a more recent photo in which he has a fuller, graying beard and appears to be bald.
Anyone with information about Wright or believes they might be a victim can call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at email@example.com.