The town of Jasper, made infamous by the horrific 1998 murder of James Byrd, Jr.,
has again asserted itself into the national consciousness. A 28-year-old black man,
Alfred Wright, disappeared on November 7th, 2013. After an assiduous search,
Wright's body appeared on November 25th, just 25 yards from where he was last
Wright, who was married to a white woman, called his spouse immediately before his disappearance to say that his truck had broken down in the parking lot of a grocery store. This was the last contact anyone had with Wright. What happened after that is anyone's guess, but one can assume that Wright's assailants encountered him in the same parking lot, situated before a heavily trafficked grocery store, in broad daylight.
The Sabine County Sheriff's Department made numerous errors in their subsequent investigation. Not only did the department fail to render a search on Wright's vehicle, which remained at the scene, they failed to formally interview the individuals who found his body. Wright's family reported these improprieties to the United States Department of Justice, which referred the case to the Texas Attorney General's Office.
The Sabine County Sheriff's Department arrested James Byrd Jr.'s murderers only after the victim's remains appeared in 81 separate locations. This same department, tasked with the investigation of Alfred Wright's death, ruled the incident an accident. According to the sheriff's department, Wright, who was found naked, slit his own throat, cut off his own ear, and knocked out two of his own teeth in a successful suicide attempt.
The official autopsy report of Sabine County cites the presence of drugs in Wright's system and concludes that intoxication played a role in his death. The authorities found no evidence to suggest foul play. The Texas Rangers, whom the Wright family contacted to investigate the case, have yet to reach a conclusion. For the time being, residents of Jasper are advised to stay away from drugs, which apparently cause users to slit their own throats, especially if they are black.