NBC’s ‘Dateline: The Family Secret’ depicts how Judy Gough, a mother of three, enlisted the help of her daughter, Kimberly Wright, to murder her former husband, Lloyd Ford, in their Boise, Idaho, home in 1980. However, the latter eventually confided in her employer around three decades later about the horrifying affairs she had witnessed when she was 12. So, who is Kimberly, and what is her story? Let’s find out.
Who is Kimberly Wright?
Kimberly “Kim” Wright is Judy Gough’s only daughter, born out of one of her first two marriages before she married Lloyd Ford in 1973. She recounted how she lived the best life when her mother was between marriages and spent time with her and her two brothers. Kimberly said, “I personally liked it best when it was just her, the boys, and I. No husband because her attention would focus.” She also stated how her mother deprived them of attention and care whenever a new man came into her life.
Kim recalled, “We still got fed and taken care of, and the norm, you know? But it was all about them.” However, little did she know the horrors that awaited her one day in 1980 when Judy would enlist her help to kill Lloyd and dispose of his body. She recounted, “She (Judy) was just cooking dinner, and she says, ‘How would you like it if Lloyd was gone?’ Gone to a 12-year-old? Going, divorcing, moving out?” But Judy had more sinister plans and laid them bare to her daughter over the following few days.
According to the show, Kim was used to Judy’s uneven love life, and divorce hardly sounded like a disaster. Moreover, she loved having her mother to herself. Judy knew about that and played on that emotion before finally laying her cards after a few days of listing Lloyd’s faults — “She just blurted it out, ‘What would you think if he was dead?'” Young Kim hardly understood what her mother was insinuating initially and thought he was suffering from some terminal illness.
But Judy broke Kim’s misunderstanding and told her squarely she planned to murder him. Manipulating her, she enlisted the 12-year-old’s help by asking her to purchase sleeping pills from a store. Kim recalled how Judy mixed the crushed tablets in Lloyd’s meal, drugged him, and shot him dead with a deer rifle. Desperate for her mother’s approval and too shocked to process the situation, the former followed her mother’s orders and even cleared out a trunk. Yet, Kim refused to pull the trigger on Judy’s instruction.
Where is Kimberly Wright Now?
Instead, the 12-year-old covered Judy’s ears as the latter increased the stereo’s volume to muffle the gunshot sound and asked her to help dispose of the body. Kim and her brother, Shane, dug a hole in the ground and buried the trunk. A few months later, they again dug up the partially decomposed body after their mother freaked and buried it again. Kim recalled on the show how the smell of gunshot powder and decomposed remains still haunt her to date. She and her brother swore secrecy to Judy about never discussing it again.
Around 15 years after the murder, Judy sold the house, with the body buried under the porch, to her youngest son and his newlywed wife. When he learned about the secret, he insisted on getting rid of the corpse, and Kim, then married with two kids of her own, returned to that childhood home and told her siblings where to dig. She said, “I had to go show them where it was because nobody remembered.” Her brothers and a cousin dug up Lloyd’s remains and threw them in a dumpster as the secret circle exponentially increased.
Eventually, 40-year-old Kim finally admitted her secret to her employer, Gary Ziegler, who noticed how stressed she was and took her out for coffee in 2007. According to reports, she was reeling from a divorce and broke down, admitting everything to him. When Gary contacted the authorities, the police enlisted Kim’s help to trap her mother into stating incriminating statements over a recorded phone call. Armed with the recording and her specific directions about where the body was buried, the police had enough evidence to arrest Judy.
Judy Gough was arrested on September 28, 2007, and negotiated a plea deal with the prosecution in exchange for admitting to second-degree murder. By then, the police estimated around ten family members knew about the crime, yet the statute of limitation prevented them from prosecuting anyone except Judy. The 61-year-old tried to save herself in her March 2009 trial by throwing her daughter under the bus, alleging she forced her to shoot Lloyd. Kim, now in her mid-50s, lives away from public attention, and reports have concealed her current location to respect her privacy.
Read More: Lloyd Ford Murder: How Did He Die? Who Killed Him?