A Shelby County man has been arrested and charged with murder in the killing of Lorenzen Wright, the basketball standout whose body was found in 2010 and whose slaying has remained a mystery for years, according to a document.
Billy Turner, 46, has been charged with first-degree murder. According to a document, he was indicted Tuesday. The Multi Agency Gang Unit saw him leave a house in the 4700 block of Waterfront Oak Drive, get into a vehicle and travel to the Collierville Express Mart on U.S. 72. He was then arrested.
Authorities confirmed last month they had found a gun believed to be the murder weapon in a lake in the Walnut, Mississippi, area. That discovery prompted officials to publicize a $21,000 reward for information established in the case years earlier.
Wright stood 6-foot-11 and was a star player for the University of Memphis. He went on to play for several NBA teams including the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies.
He went through personal and financial setbacks, including a divorce and foreclosure of two homes. He finished his NBA career in 2009 and was killed at age 34.
Wright had been living in Atlanta and was visiting the Memphis area when he disappeared in July 2010.
Wright's ex-wife, Sherra Robinson Wright, had told authorities in 2010 that he left her Collierville home at about 10:30 p.m. July 18 with drugs and an unspecified amount of money, according to a Memphis police affidavit. She told authorities that Wright made a phone call to an unknown person and said he was going to flip something for $110,000. He then left in a vehicle driven by an unidentified person shortly after the call, she said.
Wright appears to have called 911 from his cellphone from a field near the TPC Southwind golf course minutes after midnight on July 19, 2010. His body was found in the area several days later, and authorities have said it was so badly decomposed that it was unclear how many times he was shot.
Shell casings from different caliber weapons were found at the crime scene.
Thousands of people attended Wright's funeral at FedExForum. Speakers included then-Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.
"He was a young man who never forgot who he was, where he came from, the values that shaped him and the people who encouraged him along the way," Wharton said at the time. "Lorenzen's story was one of those special Memphis stories where a man is able to transcend his roots even while he represents those roots proudly."
By December 2010, hope of a quick resolution to the case had faded. Authorities said that only 22 tips had come in, and Crime Stoppers Executive Director Buddy Chapman said at the time that they weren't substantive.
The case drew extensive media coverage, including a 2015 investigation by Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports 1.
It became one of the highest-profile unsolved murders in the city's recent history.