Invisible Children

Child of Melvin Wright Jr. and Denise Wright

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.


Medical personnel responding to an emergency call in early January, 2007, found an emaciated 11-year-old girl. Some reports indicate that the girl weighed under 30 pounds. The girl was taken to the hospital and then sent to live with her grandparents in South Carolina. Medical authorities reported that she will suffer permanent developmental disabilities as the result of severe long-term malnutrition. The girl’s parents, Melvin and Denise Wright, were arrested and charged with starving the girl. They were found guilty of attempted second-degree murder.

This was not the first time Melvin and Denise had come to trial. In 2000, both were convicted of endangering the welfare of a minor in a case involving their daughter. Their daughter was returned to them and they were required to take parenting classes.

The couple homeschooled their daughter out of racial prejudice, but did not follow Hawaii’s homeschool requirements. When asked about this in court, they reported that they did not know that Hawaii had any requirements for homeschoolers. The couple was originally from South Carolina.

Date: January 7, 2007
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Documents: Date:
40-pound 11-year-old taken to hospital 01-10-2007
Relatives tried to help starving Hawaii girl 01-19-2007
Parents of malnourished girl on trial for attempted murder 09-05-2009
Hawaii mother accused of starving daughter, 12, takes witness stand 09-15-2009

Parents found guilty in starvation case


Couple sentenced to life in girl’s starvation