A modern-day lynching in Texas? The family of a dead 28-year-old Black man in East Texas suspects foul play and is looking for answers, with the U.S. Justice Department now getting involved.
The case involves the death of Alfred Wright, whose death, law enforcement declared, was due to a drug overdose. However, Wright’s eyes, tongue, left ear and several teeth were reportedly missing when his body was found, leading his family to believe foul play was involved.
In November, while visiting physical therapy patients, Wright’s truck broke down while he was at a grocery store in a rural area just south of Hemphill, about 170 miles northeast of Houston. His wristwatch and pieces of the scrubs he had worn were found in a pasture the day after he disappeared.
The area where Wright lived is known for the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr., who was dragged to death by a group of white men.
The search was called off after just four days after he was reported missing, with the Sabine County sheriff saying that all resources had been exhausted. Wright’s family organized its own search, and his body was found in an area that was close to where law enforcement previously found his clothes.
Wright was found only wearing underwear, a pair of black shoes and one sock on his left foot. His cellphone was found inside of his sock.
“It was the worst news I have certainly received in my entire life,” said Wright’s wife, Lauren, in a local news interview. “But there was also a sigh of relief with it because I don’t know how long I could’ve gone on without ever knowing, you know, if he would’ve ever been found.”
Reports indicate that authorities ruled drugs played a role in his disappearance, with cocaine and methamphetamine found in his body, according to a toxicology report. Wright’s family said the father of three was not a drug user. An autopsy performed by Sabine County concluded that Wright’s missing body parts were the result of insects and animals that came in contact with his body. However, a forensic pathologist hired by Wright’s family concluded that Wright was violently murdered.
“For me, the most frustrating thing has been not knowing what happened,” said Lauren Wright. “We don’t have closure. “I don’t feel [the drugs in his system] had anything to do with his demise.”
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it is now looking at the case.
On Saturday, Wright’s family, the New Black Panther Party and a host of other supporting forces will host a “National Rally for Justice for Alfred Wright.”