Investigation continues into former Memphis student's murder - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Investigation continues into man's backwoods murder mystery

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The 28-year-old stopped at a package store in Sabine County November 7, 2012 and never made it home. The 28-year-old stopped at a package store in Sabine County November 7, 2012 and never made it home.
The 28-year-old stopped at a package store in Sabine County November 7, 2013 and never made it home. The 28-year-old stopped at a package store in Sabine County November 7, 2013 and never made it home.
Alfred's sister, Kassilia Wright, also defends her brother. Alfred's sister, Kassilia Wright, also defends her brother.
Douglass said his brother's face was swollen and beaten badly. Douglass said his brother's face was swollen and beaten badly.
Alfred Wright, husband and father of three, lived in Memphis for six years before moving back home to Jasper, Texas in 2011. Alfred Wright, husband and father of three, lived in Memphis for six years before moving back home to Jasper, Texas in 2011.

(WMC-TV) - A former Memphis college student and Collierville bank employee was discovered dead in the backwoods of East Texas.

Alfred Wright, husband and father of three, lived in Memphis for six years before moving back home to Jasper, Texas in 2011. He and his brother Douglas Wright were roommates while Alfred attended physical therapy school and worked in Collierville.

"My brother was a good guy. He was a good father, a good son, a good brother," said Douglas.

The 28-year-old stopped at a package store in Sabine County November 7, 2013 and never made it home.

"He was about to get ready to leave and his truck broke down," said Douglas.

Wright called his wife, Lauren, who called her in-laws for help, but when they arrived to pick him up Wright was gone.

A store clerk said she saw him running toward town. Nineteen days later a volunteer search party found Wright's body in a wooded area four miles from the store.

"It has put our family through a lot of hurt and pain," said Douglas.

From the start, the Wright's did not like the way the Sabine County Sheriff's Department handled Alfred's disappearance. Four days into the search, Sheriff Tom Maddox called it off stating he did not suspect foul play.

Jasper resident Sheela Bennett, who is in an interracial marriage like the Wrights, says her husband was attacked in front of the same store just three weeks before Alfred disappeared.

"I'm gonna be honest, I really think if a white guy would have got out of his truck and headed 'towards' town he would have made it," she said.

She says her husband's vehicle was hit from behind and when he went to check on the damage two men jumped him and called him racial slurs. She says she went to the sheriff to suggest a connection.

"He kind of stopped me in mid-conversation and said, 'Well that ain't got nothing to do with this,' " said Bennett. "He said,'This boy has done this to himself.' "

An initial autopsy ruled Wright's death an accidental drug overdose, but a second autopsy performed by the Wrights' own pathologist showed something else: severe trauma to Wright's neck and head and his throat slashed.

"I have a high index of suspicion that this is a homicide," said pathologist Dr. Leann Grossman.

Douglass said his brother's face was swollen and beaten badly.

"None of that was in the first autopsy. None of it at all," he said. "He stayed here in Memphis with me for six years in my house. I never in my life seen him do drugs."

Alfred's sister, Kassilia Wright, also defends her brother.

"I believe that they captured him, and I believe that they took him somewhere, and I believe they tortured him, but I believe they dumped his body like he was trash," she said.

Who "they" are remains a mystery Memphis attorney Jack Irvine is watching closely. As Wright's Memphis Attorney, Irvine said Alfred seemed like a good guy.

Irvine was preparing to defend Wright on federal embezzlement charges in Shelby County.

"The allegation was that he had taken $6,000 out of an ATM machine," said Irvine.

The charges were filed in 2011 while Wright worked at the Independent Bank in Collierville.

His body was discovered two weeks before he was scheduled to appear in court, which was December 9.

Irvine does not think Wright's death, whether accidental or something else, has anything to do with the case in Shelby County. At worst, he believes if Wright was convicted he would have received probation.

"That's just not a penalty where you would throw your life away," said Irvine.

Alfred Wright's wife in Texas wants more from investigators.

"I definitely think they probably know a lot more than what we know," said Lauren. "When my mother-in-law drove down this road for the first time, I probably said two or three times, surely Alfred would have never come down here ... And I have faith that we will find out exactly what happened."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to take over the investigation. Wright's family prays the Department of Justice will expose anything the initial investigation did not, and they are offering a $30,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in Alfred Wright's death.

Sabine County Sheriff Tom Maddox declined to comment.

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