He Cut Their Eyes Out: The Gruesome Story of Charles Albright | Serial Killer Series (Warning: Graphic)

(Charles Albright. Picture credit: Born To Kill)

Here we are in the third instalment of my Serial Killer series and this week the focus is on none other than Charles Albright. I'm sure you are pretty freaked out by the picture above and don't those eyes just say it all? very cold, very haunting and very very dark. His eyes have been described as evil and it's no surprise especially if you have knowledge of who he is and his background. 

It's hard know where to start with Charles because his story is a very twisted one and I have to warn you that some of the details will be disturbing so as with all of my posts I just want you to bear that in mind. I try as always to be as sensitive and respectful as possible without shying away from the facts of theses cases. Just as a side note I am still currently working on my true crime book and will keep you posted about that but let's get into this case, shall we? 

Charles Frederick Albright came into the world on the 10th of August 1933 in Amarillo, Texas and was put up for adoption. His birth mother was a nurse and for some unknown reason she gave him up but it was only three weeks later that a couple by the names of Delle and Fred Albright came along to give him a loving home. Obviously they gave Charles his full name and the couple were delighted with this cute little bundle of joy who was now in their lives. 

The Albrights were a close family and both Delle and Fred doted on little Charles. He was a bright and smiley child and his early years were somewhat normal, no abuse or traumatic events occurred. Both parents were very hands on, especially his mother who seemed to rule the household with an iron fist. Delle was a caring woman and very overprotective of her adopted son but there was also a very strange, somewhat sinister side to her too. 

(Charles Albright with his adopted parents. Picture credits: Texas Monthly)

It seemed the novelty of having an adoptive son was wearing off for Delle and Charles would be subjected to some bizarre punishments for the least little thing. If he couldn't finish eating his dinner he would be locked in a dark room. There were occasions where Charles would be forced to have a nap and if he wasn't sleepy she would tie him to the bed. There was a constant state of confusion for Charles because his mother could be both loving and strict. There was a touch of abuse in a psychological manner but he wasn't physically harmed or neglected but the punishments could be harsh. 

Delle encouraged Charles to collect dead animals that were found by the roadside or in the woods and together they had this horrible hobby of cutting the deceased animals open, taking out the remains and stuffing the bodies before sewing them up again. This is known as Taxidermy and as much of a lover of horror as I am and a true crime enthusiast, I would have to say that Taxidermy is creepy as hell in my opinion. As an adult it's not a pleasant thing but can you imagine partaking in this with a child? You're supposed to take kids to the beach and build sandcastles or watch cartoons with them, obviously Delle had other ideas. 

A significant detail which would come into play pretty much for the rest of Charles's life was his fixation on replacing the dead eyes of the animals and eyes in general. In Taxidermy, the common procedure is to replace the deceased animals eyes with plastic or glass shiny ones as an attempt to make them look more alive. This was quite expensive so Delle would encourage Charles to use buttons instead and this gave the animals an even more sinister look, almost like they had two black holes where the eyes should be.

As Charles got older, not content with collecting dead roadkill, he was given a gun and would hunt for small animals to kill himself and take back home to stuff and put on display. This whole sickening routine was deemed perfectly fine by Delle and Fred. 

Despite the strange home life, he was quite a bright child at school but somewhere something went wrong because Charles began to fall off the deep end and by the age of just 13 he had already set himself on a career path of theft and petty crime. He'd been arrested a couple of times for assaults and theft and the second time he was apprehended he was sent to prison for a year and this seemed to have given him a bit of a reality check, for a short period of time at least. When he got out of prison it seemed that he and turned over a new leaf and enrolled in college. 

In the beginning of his stint at a Teacher's college, Charles seemed to be flying high with fantastic grades and was a popular sportsman. He got on with everyone and was said to be charming and always had a laugh with friends but soon strange behaviours were making his friends feel uncomfortable. Charles had found out that a friend of his had just broken up with his girlfriend. As a prank that Charles thought was going to be hilarious, he broke into his friend's room and took personal pictures of the guy's ex-girlfriend. He cut out the eyes in all of the photographs and stuck them on the ceiling so that his friend would feel like her eyes were on him the whole time. 

It wasn't long before Charles's criminal ways popped up again and he ended up getting kicked out of college for stealing. Not letting this deter him from his desired career in teaching, he forged qualifications and documents and found a role as head of Biology at a school. He'd become quite the master conman and if he wasn't stealing, he was committing forgery and of course it was only a matter of time before his cover was blown and he was fired from this role. 

It's amazing to think that someone could manage to get into a teaching role without the proper qualifications and manage to fool everyone around them but back in those days it took a long time for qualifications to be checked and there was no proper system. Today it can all be done in the space of 5 minutes thanks to our advancement of technology but everything back then was pretty much paper based. 

Despite these shenanigans in his working and educational life, his love life seemed to be going from strength to strength and he married a girl named Dixie whom he met at college. His parents had also had some rental properties which were given to him so he was able to rent these properties out and this gave him some money to get by. For some reason, as talented as he was academically, Charles could not seem to finish anything and when it came to jobs, he could only manage about 3 months before either being fired or just quitting.

His love life soon began to suffer because Dixie was getting fed up of looking after him financially. Despite the small income that he made from the rental properties, it seemed that he had more money going out than coming in and he heavily relied on Dixie's earnings from her day job at a gift shop. To show utter disrespect to the woman who was helping keep clothes on his back and food in his mouth, Charles would wait until Dixie left for work in the morning and he would drive to meet sex workers using some of the money she gave him. 

Charles would either meet the sex workers at motels or use one of his rental properties. There they would engage in sexual activity. It got to the point where Charles was well known by the sex workers and they began to trust him. He would buy them food, drugs, alcohol and sometimes he would give them money if they needed it.

Dixie finally gave up on Charles (it's unknown if she found out about the sex workers or grew tired of constantly footing the bill) and the couple divorced. Not having his constant supply of Dixie's wages to keep him going, he turned to crime again and was caught stealing from a hardware store. He was supposed to have served two years but managed to get away with it again and only served 6 months. 

It seemed to be no matter what Charles did, the mistakes that he made or the things that he did to people, he always landed on his feet. The petty crimes were bad enough but he then started to take things further, much further. Being the charismatic conman that he was, he always involved himself in community activities and got close to his neighbours. Everyone thought he was a swell guy and didn't know anything of his past, he even became a trusted babysitter. 

Things turned even darker when he was accused of sexually assaulting one of the children he was supposed to be looking after and he managed to get away with this too. The girl's family didn't want to put their daughter through the added trauma of a trial and Charles claimed to be innocent but pleaded guilty because he just wanted the whole thing to go away. He was placed on probation and no more was said about the matter. 

By the time 1990 rolled around, Charles was 57 years old and his life of petty crime, forgery and sexual assault was now switching to murder. From my research and from various Criminologists that I have followed over the years, they all say a similar thing, it's very rare that people start to become serial killers in their 40s and 50s and in the case of Charles, will we ever know the truth?

Charles selected sex workers from the infamous red light district known as Jefferson Boulevard. His first victim was said to have been 33 year old Mary Lou Pratt. Mary was a mother who was struggling financially and was desperate to get out of the game when her mutilated body was found posed on the street in a residential area known as Oak Cliff. She was partially nude and had been badly beaten and shot in the back of the head.

At the time in the early 1990s, Dallas had a huge spike in homicides and it wasn't seen as unusual for a sex worker to have been found deceased from either a violent incident or a drug overdose. The term used back in those days was 'prostitute' and as sad as it is, there was a stigma attached and little sympathy for women who were classed as being from the wrong sides of the tracks. 

The cops thought that Mary's murder was just another tragic case of a violent and deadly incident with either a pimp or a customer but what they were soon to discover was that this murder scene was different because not only was she horrendously beaten, shot and posed in a certain manner on a public street, she had her eyes removed from the sockets. Her eyes had been removed in such a careful way as to not leave a mark. It was very gruesome and disturbed seasoned detectives as well as the local community. 

A short while after this a friend of Mary's and fellow sex worker, Veronica had been spotted by the police with injuries to her face and head. When they questioned her she told them that she had been with Mary on the night of her murder, she claimed that a white male with ''salt and vinegar'' hair had picked both of them up in his car and at some point in the evening the man turned violent. Veronica managed to run away from the man after he assaulted her and hid in a drain whilst he was looking for her. Luckily she was able to escape from further harm but unfortunately, Mary was unable to get away. 

The police were not sure whether to take Veronica's statement seriously because she had seemed pretty out of it due to being on some form of substance but later on they did take her story serious when another sex worker was found deceased, posed in the same manner near to the location where Mary was found. The victim, 27 year old Susan Beth Peterson was also a working girl who had been beaten, shot and had her eyes removed. It was in this moment that detectives believed that they had a serial killer on their hands. 

The news horrified the local community as news spread in the media. Everyone had already been shocked and horrified by Mary's murder but for this gruesome scene to have happened again, it caused a huge wave of fear throughout Texas. 

Charles was paying attention to the news and obviously loved the horror and fear he was causing as well as the attention he was getting. He chose the location and the poses that he did because he wanted these women to be discovered and for there to be as much devastation as possible. He wanted to play with the police and tried to switch up his routine a little to try and confuse them and throw them off guard. 

His next victim was an African-American woman by the name of Shirley Williams. Shirley had been found near an Elementary school and this time he was careless in the removal of the eyes. It was a horrible scene, Shirley had been mutilated and posed pretty much the same way as Mary and Susan. Shirley had also been a working girl and her body was found in a public street by a horrified waitress. 

(Charles Albright's known victims: From left to right: Mary Lou Pratt, Susan Peterson and Shirley Williams. Picture credits: NY Daily News)

Hairs were found at the scene and sent off for testing and traced back to Charles Albright. He was arrested and put on trial. The jury found him guilty of the murder of Shirley but although they strongly believed that he was responsible for the murders of both Mary and Susan, there was not enough evidence for them to be 100%. It's no secret to anyone though that Charles committed all three murders and in my opinion, possibly more. As I mentioned before, it's rare for a man to start killing like this from his 50s as a first time and the whole procedure of cutting out the eyes so carefully as to not leave a mark in the cases of Mary and Susan. The sad thing is we may never know because his targets were all sex workers. He may have murdered women before but just didn't remove their eyes? 

He was given a life term without parole and was reported to have covered his cell in pictures of eyes he ripped out of magazines and newspapers. He also talked obsessively about eyes, right up until his death. Charles Albright may have been responsible for many more deaths but sadly we will never know because he took all of his secrets to the grave with him when he passed away at the age of 87 on the 22nd of August 2020. 

This was quite a complex case to write about and for those who know the story, there are people who believe that Charles was not responsible for all three of the murders he was suspected of. Some people believe that he murdered many others who were never identified. Maybe the victims that we don't know about where (as sad as it is to say) 'forgotten girls and women' who ran away from home or were on drugs and forced into sex work who got caught up with Charles and met a horrible ending and placed somewhere that has yet to be discovered? We may never know. 

Thank you as always for checking out my latest instalment in my Serial Killer Series, I hope I have been able to bring some new information and insights into these individuals who you may not have heard of before? There's more to come and I hope you will join me for the upcoming posts. 

I just want to take a moment. as I always do in my posts to think of the victims, the ones we know about and the ones that have never been identified and of course their families. May they rest in peace.

Further Reading And Sources:

The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers | Book by Michael Newton

The Big Book of Serial Killers | Book by Jack Rosewood

The Eyeball Killer | Book by John Matthews

Charles Albright | Murderpedia

See No Evil | Texas Monthly

Charles Albright | Wikipedia

Charles Albright | Born To Kill (Documentary)

Hope to see you on my socials x

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a chilling and creepy Serial Killer case! Brilliantly written and absolutely riveting! 😯🤯