The death of 28-year-old Alfred Wright has drawn suspicion since the Jasper, Texas, physical therapist went missing in November 2013.
Wright was traveling to treat a patient when his truck broke down close to a convenience store outside of Hephill, Texas, reports KHOU. He called his wife Lauren Wright for help, alerting her that the truck was having problems and he needed someone to pick him up. After contacting his parents – who agreed to pick Wright up -- Alfred’s wife called him back on the phone. “And that’s when I heard the heavy breathing, the respiratory distress of some kind. It was very heavy breathing and I just could sense that something wasn’t right," she told KHOU.
Wright’s parents showed up to pick up their son, only to find the truck abandoned and no sign of him. The Sabine County Sherriff’s Office initially conducted a search for the missing man. But it wasn’t until weeks after the search was called off that family members located his body.
The actions of the deputies have raised numerous questions from Alfred’s family and people across the nation. And to update you the latest details of the case, we’ve gathered six important facts to know about the investigation of Alfred Wright’s mysterious death.
1. The Department Of Justice Is Taking Over The Case
On Feb. 3, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, announced that the U.S. Department of Justice will open an investigation on the death of Wright, reports KTRE. The case had previously been passed from the Sabine County Sheriff’s office to the Texas Rangers. It was the Rangers who requested the assistance of the FBI in their investigation. In her petition to the Department of Justice, Jackson Lee pinpointed eight areas where she thought the Sabine County Sheriff’s investigation overlooked “overwhelming and credible evidence.”
2. The Search For Wright Was Called Off By Local Authorities
County investigators ended the search for Wright after just three days. This decision was made even after they discovered his keys, wallet and clothing. The premature end of the search is one of the points investigation Jackson Lee questioned in her petition to the FBI.
3. Wright’s Family Discovered Him After Launching Their Own Search
Fifteen days after authorities gave up, Wright’s family did their own search. They found his body lying face down in the woods only about a mile and a half from where his truck broke down, according to KHOU. The body was also only a few yards from the command post of the initial search. Wright’s body was discovered unclothed, and in too good condition to have been in the elements for the 18 days, the family believes.
4. The Two Autopsies In The Case Contradict
The initial autopsy that Sabine County authorities ordered ruled out homicide, citing an accidental drug overdose as the cause of death. But a private autopsy ordered by Wright’s family found severe trauma that was “definitely suspicious of homicidal violence.” According to the Wright family, since county authorities have not turned over the photographs from the first autopsy to the second medical examiner, the results of the second autopsy conducted in Houston haven’t been finalized. Wright’s family also is adamant that he would have never abused drugs, challenging the findings in the county autopsy.
5. Wright’s Body Had Been Mutilated
According to the second autopsy of his remains, it was discovered that the body was missing an ear, two teeth, and the tongue and throat had appeared to have been slashed.
6. His Family Believes He Was Murdered
Speaking to KHOU, Lauren said she is sure her husband was killed. “I know my husband was killed by somebody. There’s no question in my mind,” she said.
Alfred Wright’s father, Douglas Wright, also believes the circumstances surrounding the case are extremely suspicious, especially the action of the authorities. “We found the body. The sheriff has never asked us any questions. The Texas Rangers haven’t asked us any questions. We found the body,” said Douglas.
And Lauren echoed his questions about their actions. “I think we all question the motives. Do they know something that we don’t know? Are they trying to cover it up for somebody? We don’t know,” she said.