County-paid autopsy report lists 'drug intoxication' as cause of Alfred Wright's death

Alfred Wright's parents
Alfred Wright's parents

BEAUMONT, TX (KTRE) - An autopsy report on Alfred Wright issued Wednesday afternoon listed the 28-year-old Jasper man's cause of death as "Combined drug intoxication" and stated that his death was an accident.

Family members and friends found Wright's body in a wooded area of Sabine County on Nov. 25. The discovery came 18 days after the 28-year-old Jasper man was last seen alive in Hemphill. Despite the fact that authorities mounted ground and air searches for Wright, his body was found about approximately 25 yards from where he disappeared.

East Texas News obtained a copy of the autopsy report prepared by Dr. John W. Ralston, a forensic pathologist with Forensic Medical Management Services of Texas' Beaumont office.  The autopsy was performed on Nov. 26, 2013.

Under the Pathological Diagnoses section of the report, the pathologist listed "combined drug intoxication, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and amphetamine." Ralston's report also stated that Wright's body had shallow puncture wounds to the abdomen, left thigh, left lower leg, and palm of the left hand.

In addition, the report stated there was no evidence of severe trauma.

Not long after East Texas News published the findings from the autopsy report, Wright's family issued a statement via their attorneys.

"Prior to Alfred Wright's body being found by family, local members of law enforcement were quick to conclude that no foul play was involved," the press release stated. "Unfortunately, the release of a premature first page of what appears to be an autopsy report is nothing more than a self-serving continuance of that rhetoric."

The press release also asked why the autopsy report was released before "the conclusion of way the Texas Rangers described as the 'questionable death' of Alfred Wright in a press release dated December 27."

"The Texas Rangers have explained to the Wright family that their agency has not yet reached a conclusion, and as a result, the contents of this incomplete report and specifically the manner of death is not being endorsed by their agency," the press release stated.

In addition, the attorneys for Wright's family members pointed out that the forensic pathologist hired to do a second autopsy is still waiting to be allowed access to photographs from the first autopsy.

"The presence of drugs in Alfred's system fails to explain the very apparent signs of severe trauma found on his body," the press release stated.

The press release also stated that on Tuesday afternoon the Bersen Law Firm received a phone call from a Texas Ranger who asked permission to search Wright's truck and speak to members of his immediate family - "two requests the Wright family has made from day one to law enforcement." The press release also stated the request was made 45 days after Wright's body was found.

"It is deeply troubling and hard to imagine why law enforcement is all of a sudden choosing to engage in investigatory efforts - interviewing family members and performing basic property searches - all of which should have occurred on day one," the press release stated.

In addition, the lawyers for the Wright family stated their firm sent "pertinent information" to the Texas Rangers. That information allegedly included the details from a conversation in which a young woman told them her friend was probably the last person to see Wright alive.

The press release listed 10 questions that family members and concerned citizens still have about the case.

"Our firm and other members of the community have urged the Wright family to let the system work," the press release stated. "Yet, these most basic and disturbing questions remained unanswered."

In late December, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that the FBI would be assisting the Texas Rangers in the Wright case. According to a press release, the FBI will help Texas Rangers look into details in regards to the "missing person and questionable death case of a Sabine County resident."

Toward the end of 2013, Wright's family and their attorneys held a press conference at the Bersen Law Firm in Beaumont. At the press conference, Lee Ann Grossberg, a Houston forensic pathologist who performed a second autopsy, said that she disagreed with the preliminary findings from the first autopsy.

Grossberg said despite the fact that Wright's body was found in an advanced state of decomposition, there was enough physical trauma to suggest some kind of homicidal violence.

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

Ryan MacLeod, a former Galveston County prosecutor, said he feels law enforcement has mishandled the investigation.

"That young man's body is found about 100 yards from a residence...where a wrist watch was found. It's where a perfectly cut rectangular piece of clothing was found. His clothing is found in a pasture. His body is found right there and you're telling me there's no signs of foul play?" said MacLeod.

After Wright's body was found, private investigator Chuck Foreman, who was hired by the Wright family, said he believes details are pointing towards foul play in his death.

"Things are just not adding up and I would like to see a full criminal investigation," Foreman said.  "He's 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?"

Although Foreman was hired by Wright's family, he isn't a spokesman for them.

On Monday, November 25, Foreman told KTRE news that an investigation showed Wright may have been using a substance known as bath salts for an energy boost.

Federal court documents confirmed Foreman's suspicion, as a report filed with the Sabine County Sheriff's office indicates Wright's wife told deputies Wright may have been using an unknown substance causing him to be paranoid.

The document was a petition for a warrant for Wright's arrest, as he had violated his bond conditions.

Wright was scheduled for a federal trial in Tennessee on a bank embezzlement charge.

Wright disappeared on Thursday, November 7. Earlier that evening, his car overheated and broke down at the CL&M Liquor store on Highway 87. Maddox said that location was about four miles south of Hemphill.

A store clerk 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.

On Sunday, November 10 authorities discovered several items belonging to Wright including his scrub shirt, his pants, keys and his wallet. Maddox called off the ground search for Wright on Nov. 11.

Copyright 2014. KTRE. All rights reserved.