Racism in Texas in 2014?
This is one of those stories that will stir your emotions and maybe even provoke feelings of anger, and to think that this type of crime is still taking place in the Deep South today.
According to RollingOut.com, a young black professional man named Alfred Wright worked as a physical therapist and was out on a house call to see a patient when he had car trouble. His pickup truck broke down. He called his Caucasian wife, Lauren, from his mobile phone to let her know of the issue with his vehicle, and she in turn, contacted his parents. His parents didn't hesitate to head his way to help. However, when Lauren called her husband back to tell him his parents were on the way, all she could hear on the other end of the phone was heavy breathing.
Now frantic, Lauren sensed that her 28 year old husband was in distress and she panicked. She followed up her phone calls with multiple text messages asking her husband to call her. To make matters worse, once his parents arrived to his last known location they didn't find him there, but his pickup truck was still parked at the store. When Alfred's parents inquired of his whereabouts to a store clerk, she told them that she last saw him stick his cellphone in his sock and take off running. She claims he ran off on "his own will" and not because he was being threatened or chased.
The location of his disabled truck was in Sabine County, TX an area known to have racial tensions. Alfred was a native of Jasper, TX, the site of the James Byrd, Jr. dragging death in 1998. Alfred's father is a local pastor and gym teacher. Alfred's wife says of her husband, "Alfred was a man of great faith. He loved his family, and was very ambitious and hard working…fun loving and brilliant."
His parents questioned why he would run off knowing that help was on the way. And, they wanted answers. The local police was called and a search for Alfred Wright was launched. However, after four days, police called off the search, stating that they had exhausted their resources. In their records, they stated that there was no foul play believed to play a part in Alfred's disappearance, and they listed him as a missing person. They also said they believed Alfred's disappearance was drug-related and that he had been hallucinating and even ripped off his clothes since his watch, some articles of his clothing and his ID were found in an area that had been presumably searched by authorities.
Although the official search had been called off, Alfred's father and several of his friends continued to search for him. Eighteen days after his disappearance, Alfred's body was found near the town of Hemphill, TX by his father and some volunteers. They found his lifeless body stripped down to his boxers, wearing one sock with his cellphone still placed inside it, along with both his sneakers. His throat had been slit and he was missing an ear and his front teeth. An autopsy by forensic pathologist John W. Ralston, MD indicated that the cause of death was "accidental", due to "combined drug intoxication." It cited that cocaine, meth and other drugs were found in his system. The report also stated that any damage done to the body was the result of animal activity while the body lay exposed in the woods for 18 days.
His wife and parents found any claim of a drug overdose to be hard to believe since Alfred had never used drugs before, so they had their own autopsy done. The results of the family's autopsy revealed the cause of death as severe trauma to the head and neck.
The case has drawn the attention of Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who serves as a senior member of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees. She pledges that the Department of Justice will conduct a thorough investigation and take appropriate action.
The Congresswoman states, "We are all better off when the facts are discovered, the truth is discerned and the family and the community are at peace."