HEMPHILL, TX (KTRE) - The ground search for a 28-year-old Jasper man who disappeared Thursday night after work in Hemphill has been called off, according to Sabine County Sheriff Tom Maddox.
Maddox told KTRE news Monday night that the ground search has been called off because they have exhausted all their resources. He said he wanted to make it clear that there is no evidence in this investigation that leads authorities to believe that there is foul play involved. He says Alfred Wright is just a missing person and he will continue to treat it as a missing person case.
Wright disappeared after his car overheated and broke down at the CL&M Liquor store on Highway 87, which is about 4 miles south of Hemphill, Maddox said.
Store Clerk J.R. said she was outside smoking a cigarette when she watched Wright get out of his truck, put his cell phone in his pocket, and run towards the paved road heading towards town.
She said she couldn't see his face, but he seemed frustrated his truck was having problems. She also said he had been talking on his cell phone before he put it in his pocket.
Rosalind Wright, Alfred's mother, says she had received a phone call from her daughter-in-law about Alfred's truck breaking down. She said she was on the way from Jasper to help him with his truck. When she arrived at the liquor store she was surprised to see Alfred wasn't waiting there.
"[It's] totally unorthodox. That's what's so puzzling," Rosalind Wright said.
She says she thinks Alfred might have gone to one of his customer's houses. Alfred is a home healthcare physical therapist.
Annilia Wright-Mosley, Alfred's sister, says two days prior to Alfred's disappearance he had been having car problems as well.
"When his truck broke down two days before that with the alternator, he called my mom. He waited there by the truck and she came and he was able to go home. So I don't know why in the world he would take off running or going somewhere towards town," said Wright-Mosley.
On Sunday, authorities said they had identified several items belonging to Wright that were found in a pasture outside of town, which is the opposite direction the store clerk said she saw Wright traveling.
"[Authorities] told me they found his shirt, the scrub shirt…they went down a few more feet [and] they found his pants, keys and he had a little silver metal deal that kept his I.D. and his credit cards in," said Alfred's mother, Rosalind Wright.
She says they also found a watch that Rosalind identified as her son's.
"The watch was broken. And [the officer] says 'Ok. We've been going in the wrong direction,' and I said 'Ok. What direction are you going in?' and he said 'Instead of south, he's going north," Rosalind Wright said.
The road authorities believed Wright traveled to get to the pasture was Coussons Drive, which is a very dark road deep in the woods.
"It's bizarre. My son would never come down that dark road by himself…walking or running," said Rosalind Wright.
"First of all, I know my brother and to come down a road that's very eerie like this particular road—you would have to fight him to get him down this road," said Wright-Mosley.
Since Thursday, dozens of people have been combing the pasture looking for any signs that Alfred is still alive. Rosalind Wright says authorities told her over the weekend that they had found pieces of tattered clothing stuck on a barbed wire fence on the property.
"They pointed out over on the fence and there was a piece of material about this long that was hanging on the barbed wire," Rosalind Wright said.
She says authorities told her they believed Alfred had climbed over the barbed wire fence and the material from his scrubs got stuck and tore off. Maddox told KTRE news he believes Alfred has little to nothing on.
"Why would he be jumping over the fence? Maybe somebody was chasing him. I don't know. You know? I don't know. I just don't know," said Annilia Wright-Mosley.
Alfred's wife Lauren was too distraught to comment on her husband's disappearance but family friend Jessica Brown says Lauren is overwhelmed.
"She just wants her husband home. She wants their family back together. She just wants her husband. It's very overwhelming. There's hope at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day when he's not home it's very discouraging for her," Brown said.
Ray Lewis, a pastor at Faith Temple Church in Jasper, says he has known Alfred since he was a little boy and says he is a great person.
"He's been very respectful. We think very highly of Alfred and he's always been very close to the family. He's just an outstanding person," Lewis said.
Family and friends say it is completely out of character for Alfred to take off and leave his family.
"I really feel he is alive. That's my feeling. I just feel he's not dead. I just hope that I'm right," said Wright-Mosley.
The family is asking anyone who wants to help continue the search for Alfred to meet them on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Nehemiah Center in Jasper. The address is 640 Pollard St.
Alfred is described as a black male, 5'9'' tall and 170 pounds. Family members say there is a possibility he could be wearing UnderArmour. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sabine County Sheriff's Department at 409-787-2266.