A 28 year-old married father of two on his way to provide physical therapy at the home of a client calls his wife from his cell phone while parked at a convenience store stating that his, “truck was running hot.” With the couple’s 2 and 4 year-old boys both sick, the wife asks her father-in-law to pick up his son. The father cannot find his son when he arrives at the truck’s location. In fact, the son is not discovered for another three weeks, less than a mile from his truck lying face down wearing only a pair of black boxer shorts, one sock and a pair of shoes. He’s missing some teeth, an ear, his tongue, and both eyes. His throat is cut. The official autopsy, as well as the County Sheriff, ruled the death an accident.
Jasper hit American consciousness in 1998 when James Bryd, Jr. suffered the notorious lynching-by-dragging death at the hands of three white supremacists. Whether Alfred Wright died at the hands of similarly minded individuals, or even as the consequence of his own associations is a question that may never be answered due to the at best, incompetent, at worst, criminal, investigative actions of Sabine County Sheriff Tom Maddox. What we know is in the Official Pathological Diagnoses:
1. Combined drug intoxication, including cocaine, methamphetamine and amphetamine.
2. Shallow puncture wounds to the abdomen, left thigh, left lower leg and palm of the left hand.
3. Decompositional changes and evidence of animal activity. (and inspect as noted in body of report)
4. No evidence of severe trauma.
However, the family obtained an independent autopsy from Houston forensic pathologist Dr. Lee Ann Grossberg once the County released Alfred’s body. Still awaiting additional information from the County, Dr. Grossberg issued only a preliminary opinion but suspects homicide, “based on the circumstances surrounding his death, where his body was found, and the findings of my examination.” As she said in a press conference, “I have a high index of suspicion that this is a homicide.” Particularly, she rejected the first autopsy’s finding that Wright did not evidence severe trauma, finding evidence of homicidal violence in her own examination.
According to numerous sources, Wright did not use any drugs. And though he faced some legal trouble, an embezzlement charge emanating from a job he held while attending College in Tennessee before marriage and kids, no facts indicate a connection of this matter with his death.
Wright’s family hired the Bersen Law Firm to assist in discovering the truth behind Alfred’s death. A January 2014 Press Release asked the following six questions regarding the investigation:
1. Have the Texas Rangers interviewed Sheriff Tom Maddox concerning the relationship between Alfred and members of the Sheriff’s family?
2. Why was Texas Ranger Danny Young not taken off the case due to his close personal relationship with Sheriff Maddox?
3. Why was Ranger Young on the scene before being officially requested by the Sabine County Sheriff’s Department?
4. Have the Texas Rangers investigated the relationship between the CL&M store and the Sabine County Sheriff’s Department?
5. Where is the missing video footage from CL&M?
6. When did the supposed drugs enter Alfred’s body? Namely, before or after his disappearance?
A couple of theories have been advanced as to why Alfred would have been murdered. The first was that he was dating the Sherriff’s white daughter. And the second that he walked in on a drug transaction and was kidnapped, tortured and placed back in the woods at some point after the search concluded.
As the family lost faith in the investigation, it turned to others for assistance, including US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who helped have the matter turned over to the US Department of Justice. At present, both the US Attorney in Beaumont as well as the FBI are investigating the matter.
In the meantime, one more tortured black man lies dead in Jasper.