Alfred Wright was a 28-year-old physical therapist, a “man of great faith,” and father of three sons. He grew up in Jasper, Texas along with four siblings, and a father who was both the town’s pastor and gym teacher. Friends described him as ambitious, clean-living, hard-working, fun-loving, brilliant and a wonderful father.

He went missing for 18 days. He was found by volunteers and his father, stripped down to his shorts and one sock, with his throat cleanly slit and one ear missing. His front teeth were broken and missing.

The police recorded the cause of death as “accidental drug overdose.”    

Case closed, according to Jasper cops. Wait, not so fast!

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This case involving Alfred Wright`s death is not only troubling and mysterious due to the manner in which his body was found, but troubling because I don`t think that there is any record of a person who suffered an overdose `freak-out`, if cocaine was the drug in question that led to this macabre of Wright`s brutal death. Even if there is a record, Alfred Wright`s death is not one of them - I firmly believe.

What little has come out from the Jasper cops makes no sense. This article and the one in which his family wants answers coupled with Alfred Wright being married to a beautiful white woman makes this case a bonafide racist lynching -- although he was not actually hung by the neck, instead it was slashed, and his ear taken -- an old symbol practiced by clan racists. During America's "Golden age of lynching" cutting off a Black victim's ear and keeping it as a souvenir was quite normal.

Alfred’s truck broke down in a package store parking while he was on his way to see a patient. He called his wife Lauren, who called her parents; by the time they got there, he was gone. Lauren attempted to call him back, but all she heard when he picked up the phone was heavy breathing. The store clerk, who remembers Wright because he was dressed in scrubs, said he saw him tuck his phone into his sock (where it was later found) and take off jogging “of his own free will.”

Four days later, the Sherriff’s department called off the search for Alfred, saying they had “exhausted all of their resources.” His wife and family maintained that there was no way he’d just take off into the woods for no reason, especially in a town as racially tense as Jasper. Doubtless, they had in mind another incident that had taken place in 1998 about 45 minutes away, when a black man by the name of James Byrd was abducted, dragged behind a pickup, chopped to pieces and left in the Jasper cemetery — by three white men.

The lack of any criminal record or arrests, it does not surprise me that Jasper police and specifically authorities who performed an autopsy, said that there were methamphetamines and cocaine in his system. He recorded the cause of death as a drug overdose, and chalked up the injuries to animals scavenging on his corpse. The case was closed as far as the Jasper police were concerned.

This brutal loss of life in the Alfred Wright family is tragic for sure, and it has always been this way in the small hick towns in Texas where the White residents live in separate worlds -- across the railroad tracks, so to speak. Nor even law abiding Black citizens like Alfred Wright a physical therapist, a “man of great faith" can ever feel safe in Texas. The ease with which Jasper police put a lid on this case and called it closed speaks volumes. Once drugs is allegedly involved in overdose death of Blacks and Hispanics, the news around the white communities die a quicker death.

But Wright’s family wasn’t buying it. For several reasons.

Even at the time, it was noted that Wright’s state of decomposition was nowhere near what it should have been for someone left in the woods for 18 days and exposed to the weather. This indicated that he had died much more recently, long after he’d disappeared.

Animals don’t just break front teeth and cleanly slit throats. the missing ear might have been the result of an animal, but Wright’s body was, if anything, notable for its LACK of obvious animal scavenging in this coyote-infested area.

The family reported that Wright was a sober and religious man who had no history of drug use, never showed the slightest interest in drugs and displayed no signs of drug addiction or use.

The family paid to have its own autopsy performed. Full results have yet to be released insofar as Wright’s blood tests, but the private examiner did say this:
Wright’s cause of death was severe neck trauma and a slit throat. The kind of severe neck trauma you get from getting hit in the face with a blunt object, and the kind of slit throat you don’t get from a cocaine overdose.
Those who know cocaine high, know that "freak-out" is the way some react to the drug. But again I say, Alfred Wright`s death was not the result of a cocaine freak-out,
trust me on this one.

In 1998 James Byrd was abducted, dragged behind a pickup, chopped to pieces and left in the Jasper cemetery — by three white men.


Originally posted to Ole Texan on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 05:43 PM PST.

Also republished by Invisible People and Black Kos community.

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