JASPER, TX (KTRE) - Earlier this week, Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee announced the Department of Justice will open a federal investigation into the disappearance and death of Alfred Wright.
The 28-year-old Jasper native was last seen four months to the day at the CL&M Package Store off Highway 87 in Hemphill. His body was recovered 18 days later on a Texas ranch near a stretch of land sheriff's deputies had searched weeks before.
East Texas News sat down with Alfred's widow, Lauren, Friday. She explained how she copes with her grief and prepares for a new life without Alfred.
"It was the worst news I have certainly received in my entire life," Lauren said. "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."
It's been almost four months since Alfred's body was discovered unclothed, with a missing ear and tongue.
And for Lauren, the memory of that cold, rainy November nigh is a nightmare.
"My sister-in-law called me-and told me that they had-found him," Lauren said.
Since the discovery, Lauren has been trying to move on with her life but admits it's hard.
"It's been difficult … it's been difficult," Lauren said. "I'm trying to take it one day at a time. But even that gets hard at time."
That is especially true when her young boys, ages 2 and 4, ask about their dad.
"I just try to let them know that your dad is here," Lauren said." But just not really in a physical form anymore."
The details revolving around Alfred's death are strange. In November, a clerk at the CL&M package store in Hemphill where Alfred's truck broke down said she saw him get out of his truck, put his cell phone in his sock and take off towards town.
Lauren said those details don't make sense.
"I've never seen him put his cell phone in his sock before," Lauren said. "Never."
Lauren said on the night of Alfred's disappearance, she spoke to him as he gave her clear and precise directions to where he was.
"I called him back, and he gave me very clear directions on how to get to him, and when I called him back to let him know everybody was in route, that's when I heard the heavy breathing," Lauren said.
According to federal documents, Lauren is quoted as telling the Sabine County Sheriff's Office that her husband might have been taking some sort of substance that was making him paranoid. However, Lauren said that comment was taken out of context.
"They asked me about his behavior, and I never told them that he was under the influence of anything," Lauren said. "I never said that Alfred was taking any illegal substances. When they asked me about his behavior, I said maybe he just seemed … maybe the day before he seemed a little odd."
Alfred's mom, Rosalind, said she is making peace with her son's death and likes to focus on the good memories she shared with him.
"He would stand out in the yard and just scream and holler and cry for me until I got home," Rosalind said. "He wouldn't go into the house. The other kids couldn't get him into the house he was a momma's boy. A momma's boy for sure."
Lauren added that she hopes the Department of Justice investigation will help her start to heal.
"We're hopeful and praying for a thorough and fair investigation to take place, so we can hopefully have closure and have answers to the questions that we've asked for so long," Lauren said.
Lauren said they will eventually move away from Jasper, but she's waiting to see what happens in the new investigation.
Rosalind says the grieving process for Alfred is no where near being over but right now, she is focusing on being there for her other son, Savion, as he follows his dream on American Idol.
"He's letting me know that he feels Alfred's spirit right there with him, just continuously encouraging him to go on and to fulfill his dream," Rosalind said.
She says Savion got involved with American Idol shortly before Alfred's death.
"The producers from American Idol came out and did an interview at our home and took a lot of footage. Well, Alfred was there that day and they had a lot of footage so Savion already knew how Alfred felt, so in his mind, this was what he was going to go and do anyway," Rosalind said.
On Wednesday nights episode of American Idol, Savion dedicated a song he wrote to his late brother, and Rosalind said it was an incredibly special moment for her.
"On one hand, I'm crying for Alfred and then on the other end, I'm crying for Savion so that was kind of overwhelming," Rosalind said.
Rosalind says Alfred and Savion had an incredible bond, and despite Alfred no longer being on Earth, she knows that bond will never falter.
"He's so sincere. He's always been such a great kid--very intelligent, just as Alfred. He and Alfred had a whole lot in common first of all they were born in the same month--they were like seven years apart and four days as far as the birthday. Alfred's birthday is March the 8th and Saigon's [is] March the 12th. So, they were really close you know, they had a whole lot in common with another," Rosalind said.