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Mysterious TX death sent to Eric Holder
01:26 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note:

Story highlights

Shane Hadnot charged with drug-related offenses that resulted in Wright's death

Wright was missing three weeks before his body was found

A coroner's report says his body was filled with drugs, and his death was ruled accidental

CNN  — 

A Jasper, Texas, man has been indicted in connection with the death of Alfred Wright, a 28-year-old father of three whose mysterious disappearance and death sparked protests, controversy and allegations of a law enforcement cover up.

Shane Hadnot, 28, who graduated with Wright from Jasper High School, has been charged with two counts of drug-related offenses that resulted in Wright’s death.

Hadnot, who pleaded not guilty during an initial appearance in federal court on Friday, has a detention hearing next week. He faces up to 20 years to life on each count, which allege that he supplied the fatal dose to Wright.

Wright disappeared in rural Sabine County, Texas, on November 7, 2013.

After authorities called off the search a few days later, a search party organized by his family found Wright’s body on November 25, a few hundred feet from the original search command post.

The condition, position and location of the body raised suspicion among family members and others in East Texas about what happened to this physically fit African-American man in an area known for having racial tensions after the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr.

Wright, a physical therapist who made house calls, had been treating patients when his pickup truck broke down near the CL&M liquor store.

After calling his wife, Lauren, for help, and with his parents on the way, a clerk at the store said Wright tucked his cell phone in his sock and inexplicably took off on foot.

The family had maintained Wright never used drugs. However, Friday’s indictment contradicts that.

In it, authorities allege that Lauren Wright, on the day her husband disappeared, told a deputy she hadn’t observed anything unusual that day but called back and recanted her statement. She told the deputy that Wright had “been acting very strange lately” and that she “suspected” he was “on something.”

The indictment included a series of text messages between Wright and Hadnot, which authorities said show Wright bought cocaine, methamphetamine and Xanax from Hadnot on the day he died and regularly before that.

Those three drugs were found in Wright’s body.

At the time the toxicology report came out, Alfred Wright’s mother, Rosalyn Wright, said she believed the drugs were pumped into her son.

A toxicology report prepared by a pathologist hired by the family, and obtained by CNN, also found an anabolic steroid in Wright’s system.

That report concurred with an official autopsy in finding Wright died of an accidental drug overdose. However, in the report, the pathologist, Dr. Lee Ann Grossberg stated, “trauma cannot be definitively ruled out.”

Both reports showed long-term cocaine use by Wright.

In the indictment, authorities said Lauren Wright on November 11 taped a conversation with Hadnot in which he allegedly admitted to selling drugs to Wright on the day he disappeared.

The indictment also discloses a text message sent by Wright to Hadnot that said: “Bro 1 gino and a 20 and 3 handles,” which the indictment translated to mean Wright was asking for a gram of cocaine, $20 worth of meth, and 3 Xanax pills.

Wright was scheduled to see 10 patients on the day he disappeared.

He only saw two.

The second client told authorities Wright excused himself because he felt sick.

The family has long stated that one of the failures of the investigation was authorities’ neglecting to search.

The indictment said authorities tried to search Wright’s truck but were not given consent. It said the family searched the truck, found a business computer that was turned over to law enforcement and a personal computer that was not.

When Wright’s body was found, parts were missing and it had puncture wounds, authorities said. They concluded that was the result of animal scavenging activity and injuries from barbed wire.

Lauren Wright did not respond to a request for comment.

Alfred’s sister Kassilia posted on Facebook that she did not support the U.S. attorney’s indictment, saying: “The true killers, slaughterers, lynchmen and henchmen are walking free! Mr. Hadnot is merely being used as a scapegoat in an extensive and meticulous ploy to mask the truth.”