Charles Albright was a bad seed from a young age. Born in August 1933, he was adopted from an orphanage by strict parents. Albright’s adoptive mother was a teacher, so she taught him outside of school, which allowed him to graduate high school at the age of fifteen. He grew up thieving, killing animals, and assaulting others. Others knew him as a troubled boy who had dreams of becoming a taxidermist or surgeon.
Albright’s first stint in jail was at the young age of sixteen, after being caught with several guns and stolen money. Upon his release, he attended Arkansas State Teachers College until he was expelled after being caught stealing. But Albright’s deceit didn’t end there. He faked having a bachelor’s and master’s degree, forged checks, and stole merchandise from local stores. In between stretches of incarceration, Albright used his falsified degrees to get a job as a high school teacher. He also held jobs as a football coach and a baseball bat manufacturer.
The crimes escalated in 1981, when Albright was caught molesting a nine-year-old girl. Despite pleading guilty, he merely received probation. It was just a few years later that Charles Albright took an unusual interest in prostitutes and started seeing prostitutes in Arkansas on a regular basis.
On December 13, 1990, Mary Lou Pratt, a Dallas County prostitute, was found murdered. She had been shot in the back of the head, her eyes were cut out, and her body had been dumped. With no leads, the case temporarily went cold.
Two months later, Susan Beth Peterson was found murdered the exact same way—shot in the back of the head, eyes cut out. The third and final slaying took place a month later, on March 19, 1991. Shirley Elizabeth Williams, another prostitute, was found in the same area with the same M.O.
Ballistics results concluded that the same gun was used in the murder of Shirley Williams and Mary Pratt. After numerous prostitutes gave up Albright’s name as someone who frequently assaulted them, the police were issued a search warrant. The search turned up numerous pieces of evidence, included X-Acto knives like the ones used to remove the women’s eyeballs, books about serial killers, and clothing soaking in bleach.
At 58-years-old, Charles Albright was put on trial for the three murders, as well as the unsolved murder of another prostitute whose eyes had not been removed. The cases relied heavily on circumstantial evidence, such as a hair sample that wasn’t a unique match, the color of the condoms he had in his home, and a raincoat that Shirley Williams had been wearing that a witness later said she had made up. Albright had gained the trust of neighbors and friends, who testified that he was a good neighbor and always there to lend a helping hand. His girlfriend at the time also testified that she was with him at the time of one of the murders.
One thing that local detectives and FBI agents on the case noted was the precision with which the killer mutilated the victims. They say that it was with surgical precision, not the work of an untrained person. It is unknown if Albright had the skills to do such work. Despite the fact that Charles Albright is known to many as a serial killer, he was only found guilty of one murder, the murder of Shirley Williams.
To this day, some wonder if Charles Albright is the real Eyeball Killer. The cases brought against him were weak, and there was no concrete evidence linking him to the murders of Mary Pratt and Susan Peterson. At 83-years-old, Albright is currently serving a life sentence.
Sarah is a full-time freelance writer and editor with an interest in the mystery and true crime genres. She enjoys a good mystery book and loves watching shows like Castle, Law & Order: SVU, and Bones