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Serial Killers


       December 11, 2011 10:55 AM

 Eyeballs


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On December 13, 1990, police discovered the body of a woman dumped on a street in the Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas. Clad only in a T-shirt, the woman had been shot in the back of the head.


The victim was Mary Lou Pratt, 33, a known prostitute who worked in the Oak Cliff area. Police considered the case routine until the medical examiner did the autopsy. When Dr. Elizabeth Peacock opened one eyelid, she found that the eyeball had been removed with surgical precision. The killer had removed both eyeballs and taken them with him.


Photo at right: Mary Lou Pratt


Due to the bizarre nature of the case, detectives contacted the FBI and asked them to search their computerized data base for similar crimes. They found none, but behavior specialists theorized the killer had taken the eyeballs as souvenirs to help him relive the erotic thrill he got from the murder. When the memory faded, they said, he would almost certainly kill again.

 

Police had no suspects. No fingerprints or semen evidence had been found at the scene. However, two officers who patrolled the Oak Cliff area recalled seeing another prostitute who appeared to have been beaten.


Veronica told them a man who'd picked her up the previous night tried to kill her, but she had escaped. Two days after Pratt's murder they saw her with a man in a truck. They stopped the vehicle, but Veronica said the driver was the man who'd rescued her from her attacker. Police let him go, but gave the information to the Homicide unit.

 

On February 10, 1991, another prostitute was found murdered. Susan Peterson, 27, had been had been shot three times and dumped in south Dallas. Like Pratt, her T-shirt was pulled up to expose her breasts. The medical examiner found another grisly similarity. Both of her eyeballs had been surgically removed. Worse, two nights earlier Peterson had told a patrol officer that she might know who Pratt's killer was. Unfortunately, she didn't give the officer a name.


Detectives now believed the killer was someone who lived or worked in the area, not a stranger passing through town. They also believed he was probably white and would therefore target white prostitutes like Pratt and Peterson. Because two months separated the first two killings they thought they might see another attempt in April. But the killer surprised them.


On March 19, despite increased police patrols, a black prostitute was found murdered. The nude body of Shirley Williams, 41, was found lying on its side with blood pooling under her face. The medical examiner came to the scene and, fearing the worst, opened her eyelids.

 

Her eyeballs were gone. But this time police caught a break. No fingerprints or semen were found, but an unwrapped condom lay beside the body. This time the killer had slashed her face while removing the eyeballs, as though he'd been rushed, and police found the tip of what turned out to be an X-Acto knife broken off in the eye socket. Photo above left: Shirley Williams

 

Another prostitute contacted police and told them a few nights earlier a man had tried to kill her. Brenda described him as an older man with salt-and-pepper hair and heavy beard stubble. After she got in his car, the man wanted to take her somewhere else to have sex. Unwilling to leave familiar territory, Brenda resisted. When he shouted at her, she sprayed him with mace. He kept driving. Terrified, she jumped out of the moving car and escaped.

 

Criminalists examined Williams' body and identified hairs found on the back of her neck as pubic hair of a Caucasian male. The gun that killed Platt was the same one that had killed Williams. A different gun had been used in the second murder, but many people own more than one gun in Texas. Detectives decided to check the address of the man Veronica insisted had saved her from being killed. The property was listed under the name of Fred Albright.


But Fred was dead. Not only that, days earlier a woman had called police about Fred's son, Charles Albright. Spurred by media reports of the gruesome murders, the woman said when she'd worked in a store at the mall years ago, Charles came in, gave her gifts and asked her out on a date. Ignoring advice of co-workers who thought Charles was creepy, she accepted. He spun her a yarn and convinced her to move into one of his rental properties. He visited her often, but his weird sexual demands began to scare her. Specifically, his obsession with knives and eyes. She moved out, got married and moved on with her life. However, years later she was still afraid he would find her and kill her. She also added an important detail: she said that Mary Lou Pratt and Charles were acquainted.


When detectives showed a photo array to Brenda, she picked out Charles Albright. They then showed the photo array to Veronica, who also fingered Albright.


Four days after the Williams murder, police got a warrant for Albright's arrest. Thanks to Brenda and Veronica they were able to charge him with attempted murder and attempted assault. Early on the morning of March 22, a tactical squad surrounded Albright's Oak Cliff home, broke inside and found Albright in bed with his wife Dixie.


Eyes, the forbidden fruit


 


Born in 1933, Charles Albright was adopted from an orphanage by Delle and Fred Albright. Delle, a strict elementary school teacher, controlled him with an iron hand. She doted on her son but sometimes dressed him as a girl and gave him dolls to play with. A bright child, Charles skipped two grades. When given a gun, he began to shoot small animals, saying he wanted to be a taxidermist. Delle helped him skin and stuff dead birds, but would not allow him to complete the project. The glass eyes sold in taxidermy stores were expensive and Delle was very frugal. She made him use buttons instead.

 

During adolescence, Charles began to visit prostitutes. In 1949, he graduated from high school at 15, and conned his way into North Texas State University. At 16, police arrested him for petty theft and he spent a year in jail. After his release he attended Arkansas State Teacher's College, where he majored in pre-med and played football. One of his teammates dated a girl with almond-shaped eyes, but they broke up. One day he noticed something odd about a photo he'd taken of his new girlfriend. Charles had cut out her eyes and pasted in the almond-shaped eyes of his former girlfriend. Charles also pasted eye cutouts on the ceiling and in the bathroom.

 

Arrested for petty theft, he was expelled before graduation, so he falsified two degrees, awarding himself unearned bachelor's and master's degrees. He married his college girlfriend and they had a daughter. Charles was a charmer. Unable to hold a job, he got caught forging checks but was released on probation. He became a high school teacher. But his marriage fell apart; he and his wife divorced in 1974. His marriage ended, but his life of crime did not.

 

Caught stealing from a hardware store, he received a 2-year prison sentence. He got out six months later and continued to frequent prostitutes, perhaps paying them with money he received after his father's death. In 1981, when Charles was 48, his mother died. In 1885, he met Dixie in Arkansas and invited her to live with him. She accepted, but was soon supporting him. To placate her, he got a job delivering newspapers during the early morning hours. This allowed him to visit prostitutes without raising Dixie's suspicions.


December 1991: a gruesome trial

 

Because some of their evidence was problematic, the district attorney's office chose to prosecute Charles Albright only for the murder of Shirley Williams, their strongest case. However, the court ruled that evidence from the other eyeball cases could also be used. The medical examiner testified how difficult it was to remove the eyeballs, saying the killer would need a certain amount of medical skill. Forensic experts testified that Williams' hairs were found in Albright's vacuum cleaner; Albright's head hair was found on her neck, and head hairs from Susan Peterson and Mary Pratt were found on a blanket taken from Albright's truck.

 

Dixie and several other people testified on Albright's behalf, but on December 19, after one day of deliberation, the jury found Charles Albright guilty. He received a sentence of five years to life. His attorney appealed, but in 1994 the Texas Court of Appeals upheld the verdict.

 

Charles Albright murdered at least three prostitutes and terrorized many other women, but thanks to the fine work of the Dallas police and other agencies, he remains incarcerated at the Texas Department of Corrections in Amarillo. He shows intense interest in news stories featuring eyes that are gouged or cut out, and he still has the first issue of Omni magazine (1978), which had a large eyeball on the cover. He subscribes to a magazine about iridology, the analysis of patterns and structures of the iris (the colored part of the eye) and spends much of his time drawing eyeballs which he uses to decorate his cell.


For more details, see my ebook, DARK DEEDS, Volume Two: Serial killers, Stalkers and domestic homicides


As always, I look forward to your comments on this strange and little known serial killer case. 

 

SOURCES: Hollandsworth, Skip: "See No Evil," Texas Monthly, May 1993, Vol. 21, Issue 5.

Dallas Morning News, "Evidence in Prostitute Slayings Presented" 12-6-1991; "FBI Agent Testifies in Prostitute Killings." 12-7-1991; "Albright Murder Case Goes to Jury," 12-17-1991.

See also: http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/weird/charles_albright/index.html



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COMMENTS


[ Posted by Sandra McLeod Humphrey, December 11, 2011 5:56 PM ]
     Just as I think I've heard everything, I find I haven't!

[ Posted by admin, December 12, 2011 7:55 AM ]
     Indeed, this was a very bizarre case. in fact, believe it or not Albright appealed to the Innocence Project and someone actually took on the case, suggesting that the DNA evidence presented at trial was faulty. I don't know what's happening with that aspect of the case.

[ Posted by Myrna, December 12, 2011 10:02 AM ]
     Creepy, creepy. And scary that he's still alive and by some twist of fate could be released sometime !!!!!

[ Posted by admin, December 12, 2011 5:14 PM ]
     I agree. Very scary, especially since he still seems obsessed with eyeballs.

[ Posted by Observer, February 11, 2012 10:14 AM ]
     [comment in reference to my EYEBALLS post] Why wouldn't he have been fixated on eyes? His delusional mother fed him nothing but disrespect, lies, assumptions that he was stupid or the wrong sex. Obviously the father had no integrity either. The first six years of life are critical to the adult one becomes. It's nearly impossible to change that. This evil man is the grown up version of that screwed up kid. There is nothing fascinating about this. It needs to be dealt with by parents who want to do the right thing by their offspring.

[ Posted by admin, February 11, 2012 3:33 PM ]
     I agree that parents should nurture their children, and his clearly didn't. I would suggest that his mother also had serious mental health issues. Unfortunately, her treatment of her son passed unnoticed by those who might have corrected it. And women died as a result.

[ Posted by Observer, February 11, 2012 7:06 PM ]
     Yes, Admin, it's really hard to know how one should step in. We definitely need to have first rate resource groups with brains behind them to help our children out of negative situations and into solid living/educational groups that teach truth, self integrity, positive discipline, not to mention having loads of fun. The government run system we have available is abominable if we're actually looking for progress.

[ Posted by admin, February 11, 2012 7:10 PM ]
     I agree. Too many kids fall through the cracks. Look what happened to those poor kids in Texas. Their father burned them to death.
Susan


[ Posted by B. Juan, May 17, 2012 12:54 AM ]
     Actually, there are no eyeball drawings decorating his cell. I know. I work there and would speak to the man four days out of the week on his way to breakfast. He is probably the most intelligent inmate I have come across. He still denies responsibility for the murders. He says he was convicted on circumstantial evidence with no weapon or eyes ever being found. Of course it would be very disrespectful for me to ask what happened to the eyes. Out of over 3500 inmates he and maybe two to three others claim to be innocent. One look in his dark eyes however, and you see there is no life. He is a cold dead killer.

[ Posted by admin, May 17, 2012 7:45 AM ]
     Thank you so much for your fascinating report. Your last line says it all.

Susan


[ Posted by Angela, September 06, 2015 6:24 PM ]
     I knew Charles when I was a young girl. My mom and him were friends. I really wanted her to marry him but she always said they weren't boyfriend and girlfriend. I LOVED that man. She called me today to tell me The Dallas Morning news did a big write up on him this weekend. Woke looking for it I stumbled upon this. If Charles REALLY did do this he is the prime example of "You never really know your neighbor" or "velvet judge a book by its cover" because NEVER in a million years would I EVER thought he was capable of these atrocities. He is in his 82 now and in poor health. He has never confessed so we may never know what was going thru his mind. Charles was a fun loving human being that I adored as a child. I am still up in arms about this whole ordeal......

[ Posted by admin, September 07, 2015 7:39 AM ]
     Perhaps it was fortunate that your mom didn't marry him. The evidence is quite compelling that he murdered several women.
Susan


[ Posted by Tom B., July 02, 2017 4:13 PM ]
     To Angela. It was fortunate that your Mother did NOT marry this monster. You may not have seen it as a child, however your Mom must have had a sense or intuition that there was something wrong with this guy. Good thing for her, and for you that she didn't.

[ Posted by admin, July 02, 2017 5:46 PM ]
     Thanks for the comment, Tom. Most would agree with you.
susan


posted by SUSAN FLEET   December 11, 2011 10:55 AM  Serial Killers 



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