Relentless in their quest, Wright’s family organized their own search party. Three weeks after his disappearance, they found his body about 100 or more yards from where he’d left his truck parked at the liquor store. Since the area where his body was found was the same area where his clothing had been found and had been previously searched, it’s speculated that his body was moved from the murder site and dumped in the field. One report stated that Wright’s body showed a 30% loss of weight from the time he disappeared.
Two Autopsies and Two Causes of Death
The family claims that no one from their family, none of Wright’s friends or the store clerk who was the last person to see Wright alive has been interviewed by the Sabine County Sheriff’s Department. It’s been pointed out in news reports that the store is owned by a former Sabine County Sheriff’s Department Dispatcher and that her son is a County Sheriff Deputy.
CNN also reported that the family’s lawyer was given three excuses within one conversation as to why there was no video surveillance available from the liquor store’s surveillance cameras. The excuses were a malfunctioning system, no VHS tape in the recorder and that it was a live feed camera only.
But, the case gained national attention with allegations of racism, murder and a cover-up when the family paid for an independent autopsy. The first autopsy was performed by Sabine County authorities and revealed lethal amounts of cocaine as well as methamphetamines and amphetamines. Wright’s wife, family and friends remain adamant that he didn’t use drugs. The examiner listed the cause of death as “combined drug intoxication” and the method of death as “accident” with no severe trauma.
The autopsy states that both of Wright’s eyes are absent and attributes this to animals. His lips, oral mucosa and frenula (part of tongue) are listed as absent. In addition, several teeth are missing, which was attributed to insect activity.
“Shallow puncture wounds to the abdomen, left thigh, left lower leg, and palm of the left hand. Decompositional changes and evidence of animal activity.”
The family already had suspicions about how the investigation had been conducted prior to Wright’s body being found, so they paid for an independent second autopsy. Houston forensic pathologist Dr. Lee Ann Grossberg performed the second autopsy and reported that:
“Based on the investigation I have a high index of suspicion that this is a homicide. I base that opinion on circumstances surrounding the death; how and where the body was found; and my findings at autopsy.”
Second Autopsy Reveals Wright Was Tortured and Mutilated
The findings of Dr. Grossberg’s autopsy give a grimmer picture of what happened to Wright. According to various media, Grossberg’s report states that Wright’s eyes were gouged out and his tongue cut out. Several of his teeth were knocked out, one of his ears was cut off and his throat was slashed.
The Texas Rangers responded that the throat was cut by the ME (Medical Examiner) in the first autopsy, but CNN reported that Dr. Grossberg refuted the claim stating that it wasn’t part of an autopsy. Furthermore, Grossberg stated that she couldn’t deliver a final report until she had the original autopsy photos to compare to her findings, which have yet to be turned over.
CNN reported in February 2014 that Sheriff Maddox had turned the case over to the Texas Rangers who were refusing to release the original autopsy photos to Dr. Grossberg, citing they were awaiting the outcome of the investigation. It’s also been pointed out that the Texas Ranger attending the county conducted autopsy is a good friend of the sheriff.
Accusations of Racism, Murder and Cover-Up
As the case continued to unfold due to Wright’s family’s persistence, accusations quickly turned to racism, murder and a cover-up. The Wright family offered a time-limited $30,000 reward. Rumors of an affair between Wright and Sheriff Maddox’s daughter, Cindy, began to circulate. The two were said to have met through their work. Cindy Maddox works at a clinic scheduling physical therapists. She denies knowing Wright, although many townspeople claim the two were acquainted.
Wright’s wife discovered hotel charges on her husband’s credit card for the month prior to his disappearance. The hotel, close to his home, is also across from his former job at the clinic where he worked before taking on his last job.
The three unexplained hotel charges coincide with the times Wright’s wife and children were out of town. Hotel surveillance video shows Wright dressed in his blue scrubs checking into the Holiday Inn by himself. The Texas Rangers took the video to examine since the building design would allow anyone with Wright to use a different entrance.
A Clue Sparks More Rumors
A possible clue found near Wright’s body was a dime. The Wright family was perplexed over this find until it its significance in the world of crime was pointed out to them. A dime left with a body is meant to serve as a warning to others about snitching. This only added another layer to the mysterious events surrounding Wright’s last month of life, disappearance and eventual death.
While the sheriff ruled Wright’s death an accidental drug overdose, the Rangers have stated that the physical therapist’s death was “questionable” and requested the FBI assist in the investigation.
Wright’s family won’t rest until they have answers. In February 2014, they met with US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, at which time, Wright’s truck had still not been processed for evidence. USA Today reported in March 2014 that the Congresswoman wrote a three-page request to the US Attorney General. She reminded Attorney General Eric Holder that Jasper was the town where James Byrd, another black, was dragged to death in 1998.
The response was that the DOJ (Department of Justice) would be looking into the death of Alfred Wright. Whether or not the Wright family will finally get answers to their questions about Alfred’s death remains to be seen.