Kayla Wright, 29, had been missing for just a few days when she was found dead inside a large container in far northern Vermont last week. Now, three people have been arrested in connection with her murder.
The victim was discovered shot in the head on Feb. 6, in Troy. Her body was found along a sandbar of the Missisquoi River in the Big Falls are of Missisquoi State Park, adjacent to the southern border of Quebec, according to a press release by the Vermont State Police.
Wright was last seen alive on Feb. 2.
A friend from Montana remembered the deceased woman as devoted to her family — even when she was several hundred miles away.
“She was a people person more than anything,” Sara Davis told Burlington-based ABC affiliate WVNY. “She loved facetiming with her family, she was constantly on the phone with her family.”
Wright and Davis met when the former moved to Big Sky, a rural Montana mountain town where skiing and hiking are two of the major leisure activities. Wright, who was not particularly fond of either outdoorsy pastime, lived there for about four years and amassed many friends before moving back to Vermont, Davis told the TV station.
“She very quickly got accepted into the Big Sky community, people were really fond of her, they loved her quirky attitude,” Davis said.
During Wright’s time in Montana — where her sister was married — the pair became inseparable, her friend told the TV station.
“She was so sweet. When it came down to it, she really cared about her family so much, which is why we knew something was wrong so quickly, because of the fact that — she ignored people,” her grieving friend recalled, laughing a little, WVNY reported. “But she never ignored her family, and she never ignored me.”
Slight of frame, the 5’3″ woman was last seen during the early morning hours on the day she disappeared and was reported missing the very next day, according to law enforcement.
“The Vermont State Police investigation into this suspicious death continued through the night and is active and ongoing at this time,” the press release reads. “Troopers are conducting interviews and carrying out search warrants.”
The investigation into Wright’s murder also quickly entailed federal law enforcement, Law&Crime has learned.
Federal charging documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont implicate three individuals in a drug distribution conspiracy — one which had long caught the attention of numerous federal and state agents and agencies in and around Vermont. A probable cause affidavit puts Wright in contact with at least one of those charged in the narcotics conspiracy on the day she vanished.
“According to family members who reported her missing to VSP on February 3, 2024, Kayla Wright had been associating with individuals at the subject property, had stayed at the subject property at times, and had been involved with narcotics for some time,” the affidavit reads. “Kayla’s family had last heard from her at approximately 3:15 am on February 2, 2024. Kayla’s family also indicated she had been associating with an individual going by ‘AB,’ and they showed VSP Sergeant Daniel Lynch the Facebook profile for ‘AB.’ NVDTF Detective Sergeant Gardner and I verified that the “AB” profile shown to Sgt. Lynch was the same ‘Anthony Borrow’ profile used to set up the second controlled purchase.”
The man who allegedly goes by “AB” and “Anthony Borrow” is listed in the federal court docket as “Jakiy Tramaine Corey Keith.” His alleged accomplices in the drug conspiracy are identified as Bryanna Rooney and Thomas Rooney. None have been charged with Wright’s murder.
Law&Crime reached out to the defendants’ attorneys but no response was immediately forthcoming at the time of publication.
Law enforcement performed an emergency ping on Wright’s cellular phone on Feb. 3 and the location came back as the address where the Rooneys lived, according to the affidavit.
“Bryanna Rooney did not report any crimes to Sgt. Lynch,” the affidavit goes on. “When informed that law enforcement was aware that Kayla’s phone was in the house, Bryanna Rooney found it on a pile of clothes between two bedrooms. All of those with whom Sgt. Lynch spoke at the house denied knowing who had been using the phone.”
That same day, one of Wright’s family members said Keith contacted her via Facebook to say that she had been killed, authorities say.
“According to the family member, ‘Borrow’ indicated a kid named ‘Kash KD’ on Facebook had shot Kayla and disposed of her body by concealing it in a toolbox and tossing it into Big Falls the previous night,” the affidavit goes on.
The charging document goes on to relay a “narrative” Keith allegedly provided to law enforcement about waking up the morning of Feb. 3 and confronting “all of the people in the house with his handgun and rifle” and demanding to know where Wright was. Eventually, Keith allegedly said, he was told that the woman’s would-be killer “confronted Kayla and argued about fake cash, and then shot Kayla three times with a 9-millimeter handgun” before disposing of her body in a toolbox from the front yard with “a diamond-plated top.”
Detention memos for the Rooneys and Keith, however, suggest authorities believe they know more than they are letting on.
“The conspiracy appears to have involved a murder and the disposition of the victim,” each memo reads in verbatim language.” The case is among the most serious charged in this district.”
Davis eulogized her friend as a complex person — gone too soon.
“That’s the thing, a lot of people will try to say certain things, you know, ‘she had a problem,’ and yes, she had her problems,” the victim’s friend told WVNY. “But I don’t want those problems to overshadow her. I understand there’s a bigger picture going on, but she still needs to be remembered too.”
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