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Feds Indict Jasper Man for Alfred Wright’s Death

by Published on
Shane Dewayne Hadnot
Jasper County Sheriff's Office
Shane Dewayne Hadnot, in a booking photo from an earlier arrest.

Late last year, a Jasper physical therapist named Alfred Wright disappeared along a remote stretch of East Texas highway in between his scheduled house calls. From the start, Wright’s family was suspicious of local authorities who seemed certain his mysterious disappearance was drug-related; in an area that’s become notorious for racially fueled violence, Wright’s family and others in Jasper’s black community suspected there was more to the story.

In March, the Observer featured the story of Wright’s disappearance and the debate, which stretched from the Sabine County courthouse steps to American Idol fan blogs, over the racial implications of how Wright’s case was handled. We reported that authorities had focused their investigation on one 28-year-old Jasper man who could have sold Wright the lethal dose of cocaine later found in his body. Still, complex theories about Wright’s death—that he’d been tortured and mutilated before his death, or forced to ingest the drugs that killed him—spread and grew more intricate in part because authorities wouldn’t say anything so long as the investigation was still open.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office broke that silence at a press conference in Beaumont this morning, announcing that it had indicted that 28-year-old Jasper man, Shane Dewayne Hadnot, for two charges of drug distribution resulting in death, each of which carry a 20-year minimum prison term.

The indictment, which was just unsealed, dates to June 25, and attributes the strange circumstances of Wright’s death to a state of “excited delirium” from the cocaine, methamphetamine and Xanax later found in his system. The document is the most detailed look yet at the official investigation into Wright’s death, while one of Wright’s family members says it only suggests a further official cover-up.

According to the indictment, Hadnot admitted to both Wright’s wife Lauren and to Texas Ranger Danny Young that he’d sold cocaine to Wright on the day he went missing. According to the indictment, Hadnot “admitted that he sold half-grams of cocaine to Wright on a daily basis.” The indictment also quotes daily text messages from Wright to Hadnot beginning on October 8, 2013, to arrange the deals, coded messages like “grammy award” or—on November 7, the day Wright disappeared, “1 gino and a 20 and 3 handles.”

Wright, according to the indictment, was erratic with patients on the afternoon of his disappearance. One of Wright’s patients recalls him showing up late and complaining he was sick; another witness says they spoke to Wright in his or her driveway and “found him extremely disoriented and unable to communicate clearly” before telling Wright to leave.

Once Wright’s body was discovered in late November, the forensic evidence became another point of contention in the case. The Texas Department of Public Safety released an official autopsy that attributed Wright’s death to a drug overdose, but Lee Ann Grossberg, an independent examiner hired by Wright’s family, announced at a press conference that after examining Wright’s body, she had “a high index of suspicion this was a homicide.” That quote helped fuel suspicion that Wright hadn’t simply overdosed, despite Grossberg’s insistence that her investigation wasn’t finsihed. According to the indictment, when Grossberg released her report in May (this time without a press conference), she agreed with the state examiner that Wright’s death was an accidental overdose.

At 3 a.m. Friday morning, Wright’s sister Annilia Wright-Mosley sent an email about the Justice Department’s forthcoming announcement. “I must say I am very numb right now,” she began. “This is what they are doing to uphold the Toxicology report and to validate their claims to [Alfred’s] demise. I am so very disappointing [sic] in our justice system” which, she writes, “recruit[ed] an innocent black man to take the fall.” She says she and her family will be protesting at the federal building in Houston at 3 p.m. this afternoon.

You can read the full indictment here.

The text of Wright-Mosley’s email follows:

Greetings,

I must say I am very numb right now with the news of what my parents just informed me of that the DOJ (Malcolm Bales out of Beaumont, TX) called and said to them. This is what was stated:

On tomorrow August 8, 2014 They will be inditing a young black man by the name of Shane Hadnot (who suppose to be a drug dealer in Jasper, TX) for the death of my little brother Alfred Wright. They said he is getting charged because he sold the drugs to my brother which caused him to overdose and die. This is what they are doing to uphold the Toxicology report and to validate their claims to his demise. I am so very disappointing in our justice system.

My brother tongue was cut out, eyes gouged out, throat slit, ear cut off, he had missing teeth, missing finger nails, signs of violence and torture (which was confirmed by the second patholigist, Dr. LeeAnn Grossberg in the beginning of the investigation. But after the DOJ got involved she later retracted her claims and became distant to our family which was very suspicious). Later in the investigation my father was finally able to reach her and she informed him that the DOJ had sent reports to her and this is what she based her findings on basically on what the DOJ said. So my mother stated to Malcolm Bales that you mean to tell me that my son slit his own throat, cut his ear off, knock teeth out of his mouth, cut his tongue out, and his response was, It was animal activity.”

This is really sad news to our family, community and to the state of Texas. In 2014 the justice system is yet covers up a HATE CRIME and MODERN DAY LYNCHINHG and recruiting an innocent black man to take the fall (who they cannot prove a connection to Shane being at the scene of the crime). I wanted you all to have this information before they come forward to release the lies and cover up of this case on tomorrow

The Wright Family is asking for your continued prayers and support! We thank you for everything youv’e done to keep the voice of justice alive for Alfred Wright.

Patrick Michels is a reporter for the Texas Observer and a former legislative intern. He has been a staff writer and web editor at the Dallas Observer, and a former editor of the Texas Independent. He has a bachelor's in journalism from Northwestern University, a master's in photojournalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and is a competitive eating enthusiast.

  • Susan K

    A drug dealer is not going to kill a customer. Period…it is his/her source of money. Shameful and it is East Texas of course, we know the racism and hatred for blacks runs high, remember Jasper. An animal could not simultaneously gouge out two eyes, cut out a tongue, cut an ear, throat slit, teeth missing, missing finger nails. I hope someone steps in….The truth be told one day.

    • 1bimbo

      the truth is the truth, if you think there is a grand conspiracy between the texas rangers, the coroner, the department of justice, the sheriff and the DA’s office, your tinfoil hat is way bigger than mine

    • DavidD

      Drug dealers kill customers all the time.They are not well known for putting customer’s well being above their own or for making great choices in life.
      I live in East Texas and we have our problems but hatred and bigotery are universal to the human condition and none of us are immune to that.If anyone knows more about this they need to come forward.
      Different animals feed on dead people different ways but I know birds go for the eys,tongue,and throat first.Depending how long the body was out there and the time of year and which animals were feeding would come up with a pattern.
      Sam Houston State has a body farm and the family might want to check with them to see if the injuries to the body were consistent or not consistent with the known factors in the case.
      Without any futher evidence,the fact that two pathologist came to the same conclusion and the DOJ investigated this the finding of drug overdose seems to be the most likely.
      Of course if hard evidence comes up the investigation should be reopened by the DOJ..
      I know what it is like to lose family and I know his family is suffering and I extend my sympathy to them.

    • Alex Blaze

      Hey genius! No one said the drug dealer killed the customer. The report, if you bothered to read it, indicates he sold the cocaine and meth (you know, the meth and cocaine found in Wright’s system?) which Wright then took in large amounts leading to an eventual OD. The loss of his tongue, ear, etc can all be attributed to animals. The ‘slit’ on his throat (really a small cut NOT indicative of someone ‘slitting’ it) can easily be explained by Wright in a stupor falling against a barb of the barbed wire fence. Even Wright’s patient’s that evening said he was acting bizarre. So much for ‘those dang racist white folks musta done it!” nonsense.

  • London Keeley

    This is a blatant cover up by Jasper County Law Enforcement.! I have follow this story in detail since it first happened. I know in my heart & soul, this was cover up. To the family of Mr. Wright, have his body exhumed and “shipped across country to an expert pathologist in order to rule on “the real” cause to death! I see “cover ups” (I have investigated cases such as this one) all time by Law Enforcement. Of course LEO has to find a “victim” aka Shane Hadnot to pen Wright’s murder on. DON’T LET JASPER TEXAS LAW ENFORCEMENT GET AWAY WITH MURDERING YOUR LOVE ONE!

    • faketony

      Great work by someone at the Sabinecountyreporterlive making a timeline!

      “On November 26, 2013, a team of law enforcement personnel collected Wright’s remains. The team included the Texas Rangers, the Southeast Texas Forensic Center (STFC), the United States Forest Service, and the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office. Dr. John Ralston, a forensic pathologist with the STFC, assisted in the recovery and Wright’s body was transported to the STFC in Beaumont, Texas. The STFC serves as the morgue in Southeast Texas.

      The same day, Dr. Ralston performed an autopsy on Wright which was witnessed by Texas Rangers. ”

      “Dr. Ralston took blood and hair samples from Wright’s body, and ordered toxicology testing by NMS Labs. NMS Labs is a clinical toxicology and forensic testing laboratory based in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Dr. Ralston did not make any preliminary determination of cause and manner of death.”

      “On December 20, 2013, Ranger Young delivered recovery and autopsy photographs to Dr. Joan Bytheway for her review. Dr. Bytheway is a board certified forensic anthropologist and director of the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Sciences Center at Sam Houston State University. Ranger Young asked Dr. Bytheway to determine whether Wright’s body decomposition was consistent with the time Wright disappeared and the environmental conditions between his disappearance and his discovery.”

      “On January 7, 2014… Dr. Ralston’s final autopsy report concluded that Wright’s cause of death was accident. The same day, Dr. Bytheway reported to the Texas Rangers that the soft-tissue damage to Wright’s face and neck was consistent with insect and animal scavenging activity.”

      “On January 9, 2014… Texas Rangers submitted Dr. Ralston’s autopsy report and all documentary evidence to forensic pathologist Dr. Sparks Veasey for his review. Dr. Veasey is a board certified forensic pathologist who serves as the Director of Forensic Services for Montgomery County, Texas.”

      “On January 10, 2014… forwarded the additional measurements and photographs to Dr. Veasey. The same day, Dr. Veasey reported to the Texas Rangers that he concurred with Dr. Ralston’s finding that Wright’s cause of death was combined drug intoxication, and Wright’s manner of death was accident.”

      “On February 12, 2014, the Texas Rangers submitted Dr. Ralston’s autopsy report and all related documentary evidence to Dr. Harrell Gill-King for his review. Dr. Gill-King is a board certified forensic anthropologist and director of the Laboratory of Forensic Anthropology at the University of North Texas. Dr. Gill-King also serves as a director of the Center for Human Identification at the UNT Health Science Center.”

      “On May 2, 2014, Dr. Gill-King reported that, based on his review of the images and reports, that the period spanned by Wright’s last sighting and the time of his discovery constitutes a reasonable postmortem interval and that Wright had expired at the location and in the position in which he was discovered.”

      “On or about December 12, 2013, the Wright family hired Dr. Lee Ann Grossberg to perform a second autopsy on Wright’s body. Dr. Grossberg is a Houston-based forensic pathologist.”

      “On May 15, 2014, Dr. Lee Ann Grossberg released her autopsy report on Wright. Dr. Grossberg agreed with Dr. Ralston’s conclusion and found that Wright’s death was consistent with multiple drug toxicity and accident.”

      “On June 25, 2014, the United States Attorney’s Office sent all autopsy reports, toxicology reports, police reports, and witness statements to board-certified forensic toxicologist Dwain C. Fuller for his examination and analysis.”

      “On July 28, 2014, Dwain Fuller opined that Wright’s cause of death was consistent with combined drug intoxication and an associated condition known as excited delirium.”

  • faketony

    Crocodile tears…

    Reading the indictment the family hampered the police investigation when they refused to allow police to search Alfred`s (really belonged to dad) truck and removed Alfred`s work and personal computer from the truck. A week later the family gave only Alfred`s work computer to the police to search.

    Family asked the USDOJ to investigate but rejects their findings.

  • 1bimbo

    don’t forget to report that the family thought an autopsy scar was proof of a homicide

    • DavidD

      Bad things can happen to people out in the woods in East Texas.There are some white people out here that are quite capable of killing an isolated black man out of meaness.
      This so far doesn’t look like it’s the case but the family had ample cause due to very real past history to assume it could be.
      Your previous meanspirted comments and ardent denials of wrongdoing before any hard evidence was presented shows a credulous attitude anmated by your usual RWNJ bigotery.
      During none of this have you shown any apreciation of the feelings of this family in your rush to represent your ususal sociopathy.

      • faketony

        Oh boohoo DavidD, the Wright family interfered with the investigation.

        Unknown author at the Sabinecountyreporterlive:

        “November 8, 2013, SCSO Deputy David West requested permission from Wright’s parents to search Wright’s truck, which was still parked and locked at the CL&M store. Wright’s parents did not consent to the search and told Deputy West that the family was in route and that they would contact him upon arrival. Deputy West then served a court order on AT&T to obtain tracking information on Wright’s cell phone. When the family arrived, they searched the truck and removed Wright’s work computer and personal computer without calling a deputy.”

        “On November 15, 2013, the Wright family provided Wright’s work computer to the Texas Rangers, but not his personal computer.”

        “On January 7, 2014… Rangers renewed their request for permission to search Wright’s personal computer and truck, but permission was never granted.”

        • Dan

          The family was probably afraid the police would put drugs in his truck to make him look like a drug user when he wasn’t.

      • 1bimbo

        you smear rational thinking with race-baiting tactics and faux compassion.. can’t make a cogent argument so progressive socialist liberal democrats whine about ‘bigotery’ and ‘feelings’

        • DavidD

          Project much.?

          • Alex Blaze

            Trust me David, I read a good many of your posts. You love spouting off about the unfairness of capitalism, how great socialism is, what Debbie Boone LPs you and your SF friends listen to, and how everyone who disagrees with Obama ‘must be a racist’.

      • Alex Blaze

        ACtually 1bimbo’s and MY insistence that he was not murdered, that it was very likely he died of a drug overdose was spot on! YOUR insistence that he ‘musta been murdered by them dang white racist folks” before the whole story was out indicates your rush to judgement.

      • Alex Blaze

        Hey bimbo, try to ignore David, he has a long history of posting on the most radically left sites on the net.

        I could tear apart the illogical nonsense in the vast majority of his posts but after reading where he posted the following:

        ****************
        “I am not an educated man and I have a deep respect for formal disciplined education as only someone who has learning disabilities can appreciate.” – DavidD about 9 months ago-**********************

        I decided I could not bring myself to dominate a learning-disabled man. So, this certainly explains a lot.

  • Dan

    I recommend the family contact Kelly Siegler and Yolanda McClary of Cold Justice to investigate the crime. I believe Mrs. Siegler has roots in Texas. This is a sad and terrible story. We can do better for our citizens in Texas.