Between December 1990 and March 1991, three sex workers in the Dallas, Texas, area were found brutally murdered with their eyeballs removed with surgical precision. This led to panic in the community and a serial killer that needed to be caught. Investigation Discovery’s ‘People Magazine Presents: Crimes of the 90s: 1991: The Eyeball Killer’ chronicles how Charles Albright was believed to be responsible for these murders. So, let’s find out what happened then, shall we?
Who Were Charles Albright’s Victims?
On December 13, 1990, the authorities came across the body of Mary Lou Pratt, a 33-year-old sex worker who worked in Oak Cliff, Texas. She dealt with drug addiction and lived with her parents, who knew nothing of her alternate life. Mary was found with her t-shirt and bra pushed over her breasts; she was wearing nothing else. Her body was severely bruised, and the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head caused by a .44-caliber firearm. What startled the investigators was that the killer removed Mary’s eyeballs with pinpoint accuracy.
The case didn’t move too far because there were no eyewitnesses or a murder weapon and not a lot of forensic evidence. A few months later, in February 1991, the authorities came across the dead body of 27-year-old sex worker Susan Peterson on the same road where Mary was found. Apart from being shot in the head, chest, and stomach, her eyeballs were surgically removed.
Then, the following month, 45-year-old Shirley Williams, also a sex worker, was found dead close to an elementary school in Oak Cliff. Like with the other two cases, Shirley was shot to death, and the killer had removed her eyeballs. The authorities caught a break when Veronica Rodriguez, a sex worker, talked about being raped and almost killed by a man before Axton Schindler saved her. According to Veronica, Axton knew the assailant’s identity.
Initially, nobody took Veronica seriously, given her propensity to make up stories and her drug use. However, the police still dug in and learned that Axton lived on a property owned by a man named Charles Albright. Veronica later identified Charles as the man who attacked her. Another sex worker, Brenda White, told police about escaping from a man who attacked her by spraying him with Mace. The description given by her seemed to match Charles.
The authorities searched Charles’ place but couldn’t find any evidence that linked him to the crime. However, they did find a collection of blades and guns. There were cuts on Shirley’s face that were believed to be caused by the same kind of blade which Charles owned. A look into his past revealed that he was raised by an overprotective mother who got him into taxidermy and taught him how to use a scalpel to cut away animals’ eyes. He also had a criminal history of burglary and having sexual intercourse with an underage girl.
With confession not being an option, the investigators set out to find anything that could link Charles to the murders. Forensic analysis revealed that hair found on the victims appeared to be consistent with Charles’ hair. Other testing showed that hair found on the blankets in Charles’ car was similar to samples from Mary and Susan. Then, the hair sample from his vacuum cleaner matched Shirley’s hair.
How Did Charles Albright Die?
Eventually, Charles Albright was charged with four murders, including one from 1988, but was only tried for Shirley Williams’ death. He was known as someone who visited red-light districts regularly, with many sex workers recognizing him. The prosecution relied solely on circumstantial evidence, including the hair analysis.
In the end, the jury found Charles Albright guilty of murder in December 1991. The defense unsuccessfully tried to point to Axton as the killer. In the end, Charles was sentenced to life in prison. He died in 2020 while serving time at the West Texas Regional Medical Facility in Lubbock, Texas. Charles was 87 then, and a cause of death has not been made public.
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