Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Texas Eyeball Killer

Evidentiary Issues

The murder cases seemed to be falling apart. Investigators who searched were unable to find evidence that any murders had been committed at Albright's house, and they did not find bloody clothes or shoes, although they found socks and underwear soaking in bleach. Worse, his .44 Magnum tested negatively as the gun that had killed Mary Pratt and Shirley Williams, and Dixie had supplied garage receipts to prove that their cars had broken down and were thus unavailable at the time of the first two murders.

Still, there was circumstantial evidence they could use, and they were able to detain him on the charge of attempted murder while they continued to build a case. In SpeeDee's house, for example, they found a stash of pornographic magazines, along with a structure that allowed for the practice of auto-erotic sexual asphyxia — semi-strangulation to achieve a more powerful orgasm. As landlord, Albright had a key, so they looked hard for evidence that he used the place when SpeeDee was away. Veronica had mentioned this place and Officer Matthews believed that Albright came here to carry out secretive activities.

There was also evidence from hair analysis. The police had confiscated blankets from Albright's trucks and sent them to Charlie Linch in the lab, along with the debris from Albright's vacuum. The blankets had hair and fibers, as did the debris. In fact, from the vacuum they isolated some hair that was consistent with Shirley Williams, an African American. There were not enough strands to perform the type of DNA analysis used at the time.

Albright agreed to let the police take hair and blood samples from him, and Linch soon called Westphalen to tell him that hair found on one of the bodies was consistent with Albright's hair samples. In addition, hair found on the blankets from his truck appeared to match hair from the prostitutes.

As good as that sounded, hair was considered class evidence, not unique evidence. In other words, a strand of hair might be consistent with hair from a victim or suspect, but it could not be proven with certainty to have originated with that person. Nevertheless, on March 26, the district attorney filed capital charges against Albright in the deaths of Mary Pratt, Shirley Williams and Susan Peterson. The court appointed Brad Lollar as Albright's attorney. It wasn't a slam-dunk case by any stretch, so investigators knew they'd have to work much harder to find a way to pin the murders on Albright. Then another prostitute offered an interesting report.

 

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