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17 December 2013 Written by  Jeffrey L. Boney

FOUL PLAY INDEED! Local Pathologist Suspects Jasper Man Murdered After 2nd Autopsy

alfred wright smilingIn a story that the Houston Forward Times (HFT) has been extensively covering, we have learned that the preliminary autopsy performed on Alfred Wright that showed that he was not a victim of homicide has been countered and debunked as untrue.

 During a press conference held at the Bernsen Law Firm, in Beaumont, Texas on Friday morning, Lee Ann Grossberg, who was hired by the legal team representing Alfred Wright’s family, indicated that although Wright’s body was found in an advanced state of decomposition, there was enough physical trauma to come to the conclusion that he was the victim of a homicide. Attorneys for Wright’s family, along with his family members, friends, and local clergy were in attendance at the press conference.

According to initial reports, it was suggested that Wright may have been using a new synthetic stimulant known as “bath salts” for an energy boost while he awaited someone to come help him with his vehicle and that he might have had a negative reaction to the drugs, which led to his death.

Earlier this month, authorities released the preliminary autopsy report on Wright. According to the initial autopsy report, Wright’s body had shallow puncture wounds, but stated that there was no evidence of severe trauma.

Grossberg, who is a Houston forensic pathologist, was hired to perform a second autopsy on Wright’s body, after the family felt there may have been foul play involved.

“Based on the investigation I have a high index of suspicion that this is a homicide,” said Grossberg. “I base that opinion on circumstances surrounding the death, how and where the body was found, and my findings at autopsy.”

Grossberg said that she found evidence that suggested homicide, but refused to share any additional details from her autopsy. She did share how difficult it was to perform the second autopsy was, because of the advanced state of decomposition of Wright’s body.

Cade Bernsen, who is representing the family as an attorney for Bernsen Law in Beaumont, expressed his disappointment with the way law enforcement has handled the case and is even more upset that law enforcement has not even taken any statements from the family members who found Wright’s body.

“We don’t know right now who is in charge of this investigation, but if someone does know something about this case call our office,” said Bernsen. “We are actually hiring court reporters to take statements of the witnesses because neither the Rangers nor the Sabine County Sheriff’s Department has done that.”

Civil rights activist Quanell X, who was asked to come down by Wright’s family to help with the case back on November 20th, but was asked by the family’s attorneys not to attend the press conference on Friday, said that Sabine County Sheriff Tom Maddox called off the ground search and told family members and investigators not to search select areas. 

“There is something extremely suspect about what happened to this brother and it is a  travesty that needs to be dealt with in order to make sure this family gets justice,” said Quanell X.  “We cannot allow our young Black brothers and sisters to get murdered in vain and do nothing about it.

On the day Wright disappeared, he was driving along a rural section of State Highway 87 near Hemphill and began having trouble with his truck. With his truck broken down, Wright made a call to his wife at 6:19 PM and gave his wife detailed directions concerning where he was so that someone could come and pick him up.  That was the last time anyone had heard from him.

On November 8th, a K-9 tracking unit located a blue scrub shirt, undershirt tangled up in a barbed-wire fence, a card holder with Wright’s bank and credit cards, one black sock and a pair of blue scrub pants, according to the narrative. On November 9th, the search resumed with help from the local fire department and volunteers and the search yielded a belt and a piece of Wright’s undershirt near a barbed-wire fence. Wright’s wife confirmed the belt as Wright’s, which he used for his job as a physical therapist.

A brother by the name of Tory Hunt from Jasper, found Wright’s body in a wooded area of Sabine County on November 25th, 18 days after he was last seen alive. This was appalling for many, considering that authorities mounted ground and air searches for Wright, and his body was only found approximately 25 yards from where he went missing. Hunt and Wright’s father defiantly searched the area that the Sheriff forbade them to search when he found the body.  Hunt states that he stayed beside the decomposed body of Wright all night long with Alfred’s parents, before help arrived.

Sabine County Sheriff Maddox has not commented on the second autopsy or its findings.

Private investigator Chuck Foreman, who was hired by the Wright family, said he believes details are pointing towards foul play in his death.

“Things just aren’t adding up and I would like to see a full criminal investigation,” said Foreman. “He (Wright) is in his boxers. He’s got a sock on and there’s pocket change found by the searcher next to him. That’s one indicator right there. How does a guy in boxer shorts with one sock on with a cell phone this big still in a sock still have pocket change with no clothes?”

Ryan MacLeod, a former Galveston County prosecutor, says he feels law enforcement has mishandled the investigation and states that he has asked law enforcement several times for evidence in this case, including surveillance footage from the CL&M store where Wright was last seen alive.

“What’s important is that there is a camera directly in the middle of that store where Alfred’s truck was parked and that camera, if you go back there today, is missing,” said MacLeod. “I have the utmost respect for the Texas Rangers, but someone from the agency needs to start providing more information to the family.”

Grossberg stated that it is impossible for her to determine the actual cause and manner of death without further investigation, and claims that she has requested, but is still waiting and having a difficult time receiving the pictures from the first autopsy.

As a result of the family’s mounting frustration, MacLeod said his firm is urging the family to get the FBI involved in the investigation.

Nathaniel Brown, president of the Galveston Chapter of Al Sharpton’s civil rights organization the National Action Network, had also gotten involved in the search and details surrounding the disappearance of Wright.

Wright’s toxicology report is still pending.