James Wright was distraught to learn that his next-door neighbor was arrested
for the alleged sexual assault and murder of his 6-year-old daughter Jenise.
But the Washington dad has found it in his heart to forgive suspect Gabriel Zebediah Gaeta, 17, if it turns out the worst is true.
"I've already forgiven him," he told the Kitsap Sun
. "How can I be in God's grace if I don't forgive?"
Meanwhile, Jenise's mother, Denise Wright, defended the Gaeta family, who've been getting death threats since their son was arrested.
"It's not their fault this happened," she told the Sun
. "Just blame him, not his family."
Jenise was last reported to have been seen when she went to bed on Aug. 2. Her body was later discovered
on Aug. 8, in the woods near the mobile home park where she lived.
Gaeta was apprehended just a day later, after it was discovered that his DNA matched DNA found on bloody clothing recovered near where Jenise's body was found.
"We were friends," Wright, told NBC News
. "We fed him. He split wood with me at my house. I was trying to teach him to be responsible to his community – even when we leave home, we are responsible as men."