The Mysterious Death of Alfred Wright

A Texas man was sentenced to more than 7 years in federal prison earlier this year.  Shane Dwayne Hadnot, 28, pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine.  Hadnot is considered a “scapegoat” in the high-profile death of Alfred Wright.  Hadnot had faced upwards of 20 years in prison if convicted.  Hadnot and Wright were high school classmates.  A federal grand jury indicted Hadnot for providing Wright, a 28-year-old physical therapist, husband, and father of 3, with cocaine that led to his death.

Wright went missing on November 7, 2013, and searchers found his body 3 weeks later.  He was stripped of his clothing except his underwear, one sock, and two shoes.

“Hadnot’s plea provides the truth for why Alfred Wright lost his life in the Sabine County woods, ” said U.S. Attorney John Malcolm Bales, “Of course, today’s court activity will provide little solace for Mr. Wright’s family who lost a husband, father, brother and son.”

Wright’s family believes he was tortured and murdered and doesn’t believe Hadnot is the real killer.

Wright’s body was discovered disfigured, which led the family to suspect foul play.  His tongue was missing, his eyes were gouged, his throat slit, and his ear missing.  He also had some fingernails and teeth missing.  The family believes those are signs of unspeakable violence, but police said that the damage is consistent with being in the woods for 3 weeks.  They also deny that his throat was slit or his eyes gouged.  There were also punctured wounds found, which police said came from a barbed wire fence.

Text message evidence shows that the two men exchanged messages 2 days before his death in which Wright asked Hadnot to meet him so he could buy cocaine.

Wright’s autopsy showed that his blood contained cocaine, methamphetamine, and Xanax.  His death was ruled an accidental drug overdose.

Wright’s death made national headlines and sparked controversy when his death was compared to racially motivated murders including the death of James Byrd in 1998.

On the day he went missing, Wright visited the CL&M grocery store.  His truck broke down and he called his wife at about 6:00 p.m.   A clerk at the store said that he witnessed Wright tuck his cell phone in his sock and take off down the road.  Several days later, pieces of his clothing were found, but he was missing.   His body was found approximately 25 yards from where he disappeared, but searchers on the ground and in the air could not find his body for almost a month.  Since day one, there have been reports of discrepancies in the investigation.

The Sheriff’s department never checked Wright’s vehicle for evidence.  According to the county sheriff Tom Maddox, “There was no reason for us to take it…”

There were also controversial allegations made during a fight between New Black Panther Party leader Quanell X and a resident of the area, in which it was alleged that Wright, a married father of 3, was having an affair with the daughter of a sheriff’s deputy.  Maddox said that no one in the sheriff’s office knew Wright, “First of all, Mr. Wright was from Jasper.  This is Sabine County.”  The speculation storm was so intense that a dime found by Wright’s body brought allegations of a gang hit.

The family was particularly upset that Texas Ranger Danny Young was part of the investigation.

“Parents do not have a son today. I mean, a wife does not have a husband, and kids do not have a father. I mean that’s the tragedy that ought to be reported here not because of some conspiracy and cover up…Alfred Wright was…a very bright young man, had a great family, and a good job…he was living the American dream…it all came to an end because of a drug overdose,” said Maddox.

The indictment stated that Wright’s death was caused by a state of “excited delirium” caused by the mix of drugs in his system.  Hadnot admitted to Wright’s wife Lauren and to Texas Ranger Danny Young that he sold cocaine to Wright.  He bought cocaine so often from Hadnot that they had a coded texting system, like a “grammy award”.

Reportedly, Wright acted erratically with his patients the day of his disappearance.  One of his patients reported that Wright complained of not feeling right.  Another witness said, he found him “disoriented” in his driveway and told him to leave.  Even the independent examiner hired by the family, Lee Ann Grossberg, agreed with the final conclusion that Wright’s death was an overdose.  Though she also said that homicide could not be definitively ruled out.

The family did not have any idea that Wright had been a drug user, but had “suspected” that he may have been on something that day, according to police interviews.  Some believe he may have been forcibly drugged.  The family still believes that due to the history of Jasper, TX, Wright’s death was a hate crime.

John Malcolm Bales, the U.S. attorney for Texas’ eastern district said, “I don’t expect people to just believe our indictment…”

Despite all of this, the fact remains that Alfred Wright’s sister, Kassilia Wright, said her brother was randomly drug tested at work and he passed every one of them.  Police maintain that Wright had a long standing drug issue.

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