And, at first, things in New Jersey seemed to be going well. Wright had got a job in a kitchen, found a room to rent and even met a girl. Then, one day, his wallet was stolen, and he found himself unable to afford the bus fare to work. It was this seemingly minor incident, moreover, that would apparently push Wright towards a life of crime.
Indeed, rather than trying to find more money through legitimate channels, Wright went on to acquire it through illicit means. On November 23, 1962, Wright, his acquaintance Walter McGhee and two other accomplices successfully robbed a local motel, making off with $200 in cash. Then they set their sights on a gas station in Wall, New Jersey, roughly 22 miles away from the scene of their first crime.
By the time the gang got there, moreover, it was almost 9:30 p.m., and the station was being presided over by Walter Patterson. The dad of two teenage daughters had taken over the shift from his brother Harry Patterson Jr., enabling Harry to spend some more time with his family. And, as it turned out, that decision had sealed Walter’s fate.