by Jeffrey L. Boney
Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward-Times
The Houston Forward Times (HFT) has been extensively covering the Alfred Wright murder case and cover-up from the beginning and was on hand this past Saturday for two events in Jasper, TX and Hemphill, TX this past weekend.
Several new major developments have occurred since the family demanded that Sherriff Tom Maddox, Texas Ranger Danny Young and the Sabine County Sherriff’s Department be investigated for their role in what they believe has been a massive cover-up. According to family members, no law enforcement officials have interviewed any of Wright’s family members; the search party members who located and found his body; his friends or closest associates; and have yet to even get prints from his truck that had stalled on the day of his disappearance.
The family met with U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, for over three hours to request she help get U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice and its Civil Rights and FBI units to take over the investigation. The Justice Department decided to take over the case, after receiving a letter from Congresswoman Jackson Lee, who is a Senior Member of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees.
Since that announcement by the Justice Department, Sabine County District Attorney J. Kevin Dutton, who had been visibly absent concerning the Wright case, was asked to recuse himself to “avoid any appearance of impropriety” in the face of “allegations against the sheriff,” who is a friend, according to a statement from Dutton’s office.
Dutton then turned the case over to the Texas attorney general, who turned it down, saying, “Investigative involvement by this office is not appropriate at this time.”
On Saturday, a $30,000 reward was announced that is being offered for information leading to charges and a conviction in the death of Wright, 28, who was reported missing on November 7, 2013. His body was later found by a volunteer search group nearly three weeks after he went missing.
The Wright family requested that an independent second autopsy be performed after authorities released a preliminary autopsy report on Wright, stating that his body only had shallow puncture wounds and that there was no evidence of severe trauma or foul play. That independent second autopsy, performed by Houston forensic pathologist Lee Ann Grossberg, revealed that Wright had his eyes were gouged out, tongue cut out, throat slashed, several teeth knocked out, an ear cut off and many more things to show that foul play was indeed involved. The official autopsy, released by the medical examiner, did not reveal any of the findings that the second autopsy produced, which is what prompted the family to seek help from Congresswoman Jackson Lee and the Justice Department.
The desire of the Wright family to seek justice intensified on Saturday with Wright’s father, Douglas, calling on anyone to come forward with information about his son.
On Saturday at a rally held at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ in Jasper, Wright’s father addressing the standing-room only crowd with a renewed passion for justice.
“As of this day, no one from law enforcement has ever come and asked us any questions about the day we found Alfred’s body,” said Pastor Wright. “Sherriff Tom Maddox and his friends don’t have a care in the world about getting down to the bottom of what happened to our son.”
A panel discussion consisting of concerned national leaders and private investigator Chuck Foreman, the man the family brought in to help search for Wright’s body, convened to discuss the issues surrounding the case and answering questions that could possibly lead to some progress with the case.
One of the most powerful and heart-stirring moments was when the sister and niece of James Byrd, Jr., the Jasper man who was dragged to his death by three white men in 1998, came forth to provide monetary and inspirational support to the Wright family.
Betty Byrd Boatner, James Byrd’s sister, cried out to God for peace and justice for the family before falling to her knees to pray for and embrace Alfred’s mother Rosalind and the rest of the family.
The rally concluded with Wright’s younger brother Savion, a recent contestant on ‘American Idol’, performing a song called “Breathing Underwater” which he had written in dedication to his brother. Two of Savion’s ‘American Idol’ colleagues, John Fox and Madelyn Patterson, also performed several songs along with Savion.
After the Jasper rally, over 80 cars traveled to Hemphill, Texas, where a demonstration was taking place at the same time the Jasper rally was concluding.
Krystal Muhammad National, Chairwoman of The New Black Panther Party (NBPP) organized the demonstration and was joined by community activist Quanell X, Kofi Taharka, National Chairman of the National Black United Front (NBUF) and hundreds of protestors in front of the Sabine County courthouse and the Sabine County Administration Building to demand justice for Alfred Wright.
The Hemphill demonstration was far different than the Jasper rally, in that dozens of heavily armored members of the New Black Panther Party were on guard as you entered downtown Hemphill, seemingly prepared to deal with any conflicts they believed would arise from being present there.
As the demonstration began, several individuals, including a gentleman who many residents identified as a White supremacist, began spewing racist rhetoric and vulgarities at the protestors and even confronted Quanell X face-to-face. Law enforcement officials had to come over and escort the man away.
Because there have been a litany of rumors and innuendo about what led to Wright’s disappearance, torture and murder, Quanell X took to the microphone to deliver a sharp rebuke of Sherriff Maddox.
“They say they found three drugs in Alfred Wright’s body,” said Quanell X. “Why don’t you come out and tell everybody what we already know Sherriff Maddox; that your son is the biggest meth dealer in Sabine County. Why haven’t you prosecuted your own son Sherriff Maddox?”
According to the toxicology report released by Forensic Medical Management Services of Texas, P.A. from the initial autopsy performed on Wright’s body, it was revealed that three drugs were found in his system, which they blamed for the cause of his death. The report says cocaine, methamphetamine, and amphetamine were found in Wright’s system. The report lists the cause of death as “Combined drug intoxication”, and the manner of death was listed as “Accident”.
Quanell X went on to state that Sherriff Maddox knows more about what happened to Alfred Wright than what he has indicated and is accusing him of lying to him and the family from the beginning of the search for Wright’s body. He believes that Sherriff Maddox wanted the body to lay there for a longer period of time, so that decomposition could set in and destroy any evidence that could lead to the truth of what happened to Wright.
“The Wright family and I had a 3 hour meeting with Sherriff Maddox in his office and there was a map that I got up and took a marker and asked the Sherriff to search one specific area on that map and Sherriff Maddox told me no,” said Quanell X. “Not only did Sherriff Maddox tell me that we could not search that area, he went further to say that if any of the search organizers decided to search that area they would be arrested on the spot. I knew right then that Sherriff Maddox had his fingerprints all over this young man’s disappearance.”
Quanell X also accused Sherriff Maddox of obstructing justice and lying to everyone about key issues surrounding the case.
“Sherriff Maddox told Tim Miller with Texas EquuSearch that their presence nor help with the search was not needed and warned them that if they got involved he would arrest them too,” said Quanell X. “Isn’t it ironic that the same place that the body was found, is the same place that Sherriff Maddox told us we couldn’t search?”
According to Quanell X and family members, another lie that Sheriff Maddox told was that they had already searched the area on three separate occasions by air and with volunteers on the ground, before calling off the search after four days.
They also state that Sherriff Maddox told them that the owner of the property, where Wright’s body was eventually found, told the Sheriff that members of the search party and law enforcement had not been given permission to search for Wright’s body on his property. Private Investigator Chuck Foreman reached out to that property owner and told Foreman he never told Sheriff Maddox they could not search his property for Wright’s body.
Quanell X believes that there may be a connection somehow to the daughter of Sherriff Maddox and Wright, and he wants the Justice Department to question her.
“On a telephone conference call with Sherriff Maddox and Texas Ranger Danny Young, Sherriff Maddox denied ever hearing any rumors that his daughter knew Alfred Wright,” said Quanell X. “I asked him how he could possibly know that and he admitted to all of us on the telephone that he questioned his own daughter. I asked him he thought that it was right for him to question his own daughter during a major investigation and he said yes.”
After the Hemphill demonstration, many of the protestors traveled to CL&M Liquor store on Highway 87, where Wright’s truck broke down. Ironically, J.R. the store Clerk who 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 downtown Hemphill, happened to be in the store working that day.
Visibly shaken by the number of individuals who descended upon the store to ask her questions, she vehemently stated that she did not know anything more than she had already shared and expressed her condolences to Wright’s wife Lauren and his parents. When asked, she stated that she had not been threatened or intimidated by anyone.
Several cameras at the CL&M Liquor store had been removed. Several patrons of the store told the HFT that they had a negative view of Sherriff Maddox and that he has a history of intimidation and retaliation.
There are still many questions swirling around about what actually happened to Wright on that day and how he actually died.
The Wright family and others are aggressively seeking answers and the HFT will continue to keep our readers abreast to any new details surrounding this investigation.
A number has been provided for anyone with information about Wright’s death and about the $30k reward. The contact person is Private Investigator Chuck Foreman and his number is 512-644-9856.