"The Texas Eyeball Killer" Case
Charles Albright is far from being the most notorious serial killer in American history. His list of victims only includes 3 women, all known prostitutes in Dallas, TX. What makes him standout was he committed his first murder at the age of 57 and more importantly the manner in which it was carried out.
In December of 1990, 33 year old Mary Lou Pratt’s partially clad body was discovered in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. Some reports say she was 35. The children who stumbled across the mutilated woman at first thought she was a mannequin. She was wearing only a T-shirt and shot in the back of the head. Both eyes had been surgically removed without as much as a mark on the eye lids. There had been no bleeding and only two small cuts. Apparently the killer had taken them with him. It would become his trademark signature.
According to criminal behavior experts, the crime had been committed simply for pure sadistic gratification and the eyes taken as souvenirs. Being knowledgeable in such matters, they realized it was just a matter of time before the euphoria of the murder wore off. Chances were the perpetrator would once again be prowling the streets in search of another victim.
Charles was born August 10, 1933, and was subsequently adopted by Delle and Fred Albright. His mother, a schoolteacher, was very strict and overprotective. She sometimes dressed Charles as a girl and gave him a doll to play with.
Young Charles was once given a gun. He killed small animals with it and expressed a desire to become a taxidermist. His mother taught him how to skin and stuff his dead animals. However, his mother was thrifty and wouldn’t purchase the expensive glass eyes sold in taxidermy shops. So he had to use buttons or black marbles. Some analysts say this may have been the root for his obsession with eyeballs.
His mother continued to push him hard in his studies which enabled him to skip two grades. But, although he was a bright lad…he was also a petty thief. And by the time he was 13 he had been arrested for aggravated assault.
Albright graduated from high school at 15. But by this time he had already added forgery to his list of talents. He fraudulently signed his way into North Texas University. Shortly thereafter he was arrested and incarcerated for robbing a store of petty cash and some firearms.
Apparently, his sentence didn’t teach him anything because after being released he just falsified some more bogus degrees and wormed his way into the Arkansas State Teacher’s College only to later be found in possession of stolen goods and expelled. However, he wasn’t prosecuted and continued with his wayward ways.
Not long afterward Charles’ married but he was never able to keep a job for long. He survived by forging checks and using fake credentials. For a while he became a high school teacher using his forged documents but he was soon found out, fired and put on probation. But true to form, Albright was soon in hot water again. He was arrested for robbing a hardware store and got a 2 year prison sentence but he was back on the streets after only 6 months. Eventually his wife tired of his incorrigible life style and dallying with prostitutes and she left. They were officially divorced in 1974.
In 1981 he was accused of sexually molesting a 9 year old girl. Charles was prosecuted, but once again society was lenient and he was put on probation.
In 1985, Albright met Dixie, in Arkansas and they moved in together. Naturally, it wasn’t long before she was supporting him. In order to keep visiting prostitutes without Dixie becoming suspicious Charles took an imaginary early morning paper route.
It was in February of 1991 Albright’s second victim, Susan Peterson, was found in similar manner as that of Pratt. Her body had been disposed of just outside city limits in south Dallas. Peterson had previously told a police officer she believed she knew who Pratt’s killer might be. However, at the time she didn’t give the name so authorities were still at square one. By this time the media had begun calling the mystery killer “The Texas Eyeball Killer,” “The Dallas Ripper” and “The Dallas Slasher.”
About a month later the bruised, battered and bleeding body of Shirley Williams turned up near a school. William’s eyes were also missing. But this time several witnesses who had seen Albright with Williams informed police. He was promptly arrested at his home.
But the more authorities found out about Albright, the more they thought they had the wrong guy. At 57 he didn’t fit the profile of a serial killer. Neither did the facts he had an alibi, a master's degree, spoke several languages, was a former science teacher, charming and didn’t abuse drugs or alcohol. Additionally, Albright had been a football coach and had participated with the Cub Scouts. Did they have the wrong man? Only a jury could decide.
Charles Albright’s trial started on March 22, 1991. And he almost got away with murder because much of the evidence against him was circumstantial. Almost…except for once piece of irrefutable evidence tying him to the William’s murder. A few of his hairs had been found at the scene of the crime. On December 18, 1991, Charles Albright was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 3 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Albright is now confined at the Clements Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections in Amarillo. He no longer corresponds with Dixie. He still exhibits an extreme interest in any news reports involving cases where eyes have been gouged or cut out. It’s also reported he subscribes to a magazine about iridology, a scientific field which studies the iris of the eye. He also reportedly has the first issue of Omni featuring a large eyeball on the cover.
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