Warning! Super long post!
When I hear the town name Jasper, and it just happens to be in Texas, I immediately think of James Byrd, Jr. I’m sure you do, too. On June 7, 1998, one of the worst cases of racial crimes occurred here. James Byrd, Jr. age 48, was dragged for three miles behind a pick-up truck on an asphalt road. He remained conscious throughout most of the terrifying ordeal and was killed when his body hit the edge of a culvert, severing his head and right arm. The murderers – Shawn Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John King – then drove on for another mile before dumping his torso in front of an African-American cemetary. The horrific crime shocked the nation.
So, it didn’t really come as a total surprise when I recently read about another black man from Jasper was found dead.
Alfred Wright, 28, disappeared from the package store, CL&M in Hemphill, Tx on November 7, 2013 after speaking with his wife on his cell phone. He called her at 5:15 p.m. to say his truck broke down, and that he needed a ride. But she was home with their two sick children so she called his parents, Douglas and Rosalind Wright, instead.
Lauren recalled: ‘At around 6.05pm I called Alfred to let him know his parents were on the way.
‘But all I could hear was heavy breathing, real heavy and I knew right then the urgency, that something was wrong.
‘I was asking him, are you mad? Are you trying to fix your truck? Can you hear me? But there was nothing only the breathing.’ (Daily Mail)
20 minutes before his parents arrived at the store, Alfred was seen running away like a bat out of hell from outside the store by the store clerk.
The clerk stated that Alfred stayed outside the store talking on his cell phone, leaning against a wrought iron post, and drinking from a bottle. She said Alfred was there for about an hour before suddenly running away, tucking his cell phone inside one of his socks before fleeing.
After his parents arrived and were told by the clerk that he ran off, Douglas and Rosalind drove for a while to try and locate their son. Failing to do so, the couple headed back to CL&M, thinking he might return there. They noticed that his truck was barely pulled off the road indicating that is where it broke down. When they didn’t see Alfred, they called the Sheriff.
The next day, Alfred’s wristwatch and pieces of the scrubs he had worn were found in a pasture.
Eighteen days later, Alfred’s body was found by a search party formed by Alfred’s friends and family about 25 yards from where he disappeared. His eyes, left ear, some teeth, and tongue were missing. Some reports say his throat was slit.
Shortly after Alfred disappeared, Maddox claimed this was a drug-related death even though he had nothing to base this on. There was no evidence pointing to this during the disappearance. It’s just a little too much of a coincidence that the coroner found drugs (cocaine, meth, and amphetamines) in Alfred’s system and therefore, ruled Alfred’s death as accidental.
However, Alfred had no proven history of drug use and his family insist he did not take drugs.
Luckily for Alfred’s widow Lauren, and his parents, they’ve got private investigator Chuck Foreman on their side. He normally searches for missing children, but the facts surrounding this case and the ridiculous ruling of accidental death caused Foreman to reach out and help. He was part of the search party that located Alfred’s body.
Also assisting is Dr Leanne Grossberg, a highly respected forensic pathologist based in Houston, who said: ‘I have a high index of suspicion for homicide in this case. Anytime you find a decomposing, partially clothed body, dead in the woods it should be considered a homicide until otherwise proven.”
February 2014, the Department of Justice took over the case.
In August 2014, 28-year-old Shane Hadnot was arrested in the death of Alfred Wright.
To read my opinion on this case and more about the arrest, please click here.