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Owner of Merced tow truck company arrested after allegedly making false report

The 58-year-old owner of a local tow truck company was arrested Wednesday after Merced County Sheriff's investigators said he made a false report about a stolen car.

Meanshile, sheriff's investigators say they are also looking into reports that the suspect's wife is missing, possibly in Mexico.Randal "Randy" Loy Wright, owner of RTS Towing, was taken into custody by detectives around 8 a.m. at his residence on the 2000 block of Yosemite Parkway, near Andregg Avenue, according to Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesperson.

Investigators believe Wright called the California Highway Patrol in February and reported his Ford Explorer Sport Trac was stolen. The car was later found at a location in Butte County -- although investigators believe Wright already knew of the car's location.

Wright also signed a CHP form, stating that the car was stolen, MacKenzie said. He said the reason why Wright allegedly made the false report is still under investigation. Because Wright is accused of lying on that form, MacKenzie said he was arrested on suspicion of perjury.

Sheriff's investigators learned of the false auto theft report while investigating a missing person case involving the suspect's wife, Karen Rene Wright, 50.

Karen Wright's family members said she disappeared after making a trip to San Felipe, Mexico, on Feb. 9. The couple had owned two houses in San Felipe, according to Marcia Stewart, her sister. "I've cried every night," said Stewart, about her sister's disappearance. "I want somebody to find Karen."

Stewart said investigators in Mexico are also looking into her sister's disappearance.

No one has been arrested, or named a suspect, in the case of Karen Wright's disappearance, MacKenzie said. "We're still keeping all of our options open and investigating all possible leads," MacKenzie said.

Randal Wright reported his wife missing to the sheriff's department on Feb. 12, the day before he allegedly made the false report about the stolen car.

According to court documents, Karen Wright filed for divorce in October, after being married to Randal Wright for 12 years. Cindy Morse, Randal Wright's attorney in the divorce case, said she was aware of Wright's arrest, but had no comment.

Karen Wright claimed in court documents that her husband had threatened her and physically abused her, saying that he told her that "he could kill her and nobody would know."

Randal Wright, however, also claimed in court documents that his wife was abusive towards him, saying that she was delusional, and that she accused him of trying to poison her.

Karen Wright is not the first person connected to RTS Towing to disappear under mysterious circumstances. Two tow truck drivers who worked for the company, Steven Lincoln Lombard, 33, and Paul Armstrong, 28, vanished on Dec. 17, 1993.

Armstrong was last seen at his West 25th Street home by his girlfriend as she left for work at 7:45 a.m. That same day, Lombard had made arrangements to meet his wife, Louise, to go Christmas shopping. He never made it to that appointment, according to family members

The next morning, Lombard’s truck was found in a K-Mart parking lot. The truck's keys were inside, along with a cup of coffee in the console holder. The truck’s windows were rolled down, and the door was unlocked.

No one has been named as a suspect in the mens' disappearance, which is now considered a double homicide case.

Wright was booked into the John Latorraca Correctional Center on suspicion of perjury. He's being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

MacKenzie said Wright's bail is high because it was determined that he could be a flight risk.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or