True Crime Tales with Cosette | The Eyeball Killer

Hello everyone! 

I typically narrate true crime tales by telling the story of the victim. This blog post is a little different; I will recount the tale of a possible serial killer from Dallas, Texas. This is the story of Charles Frederick Albright.


Charles Frederick Albright was a well-educated, friendly, and successful middle-aged man. At 57 years old, he became the monster known as The Eyeball Killer. He was a Texas-based American murderer and presumed serial killer who was convicted of murdering one woman and accused of murdering two others in 1991. He was incarcerated in Lubbock, Texas, at the John Montford Psychiatric Unit. 

Charles Albright's mugshot
Charles Albright's mugshot

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Charles was born in Amarillo, Texas, on the 10th of August, 1933. He was adopted by Delle and Fred Albright from an orphan's home at three weeks old. However, Charles would never know the truth. He was told that his mother was a very gifted law student with a bright future ahead of her until she secretly married another student and got pregnant.


Her affluent father insisted she annul the marriage and give up the baby for adoption, or he would cut her off. His adoptive mother, Delle, was incredibly doting and overprotective. Despite her evident love for Albright, she had a dark side to her caring nature. She'd repeatedly change his clothes, up to three times a day, to keep him clean, and she was terrified that he would catch polio by touching things he shouldn't, so she took him to a hospital.  


Delle's punishments could be a little harsh. As punishment for chewing on her tape measure, she once made him sit in a dark room, and when he refused to nap, she physically tied him to his bed. While the punishments never escalated to full-fledged abuse, they were dangerously close.


Delle paid extra attention to teaching Albright good manners and being polite, a trait he would carry his entire life. She also made sure that he was respectful of women, specifically trying to instil in him politeness about sex, as she regarded his father's constant desire for sex as greedy and disrespectful. As he grew older, she chaperoned him on every date he went on and even called his date's parents to reassure them that Albright would be on his best behaviour.


Delle also placed a high value on her son's education, requiring him to practise the piano for 30 minutes each day before the school bus arrived. She also took it upon herself to teach him everything she knew about math, reading, and writing, to the point where he moved up two grades in elementary school. All that pressure at such a young age would take decades to materialise.


Delle also taught young Charles the art of taxidermy through a mail-order course. She assisted him in locating dead animals for practice and taught him how to open a skull with a knife, scoop out the brains with a spoon, and pluck out the eyeballs with forceps. Albright would recall these lessons well into his fifties, particularly the part about the eyes.


Chares Albright, on the other hand, began exhibiting worrisome behaviour as early as his adolescence. He'd already been arrested for petty theft and aggravated assault when he was 13. In an apparent effort of defiance against his overprotective mother, he had developed an inclination for low-yield criminality.


Even back then, someone was aware of the trouble brewing in that young man's head, as his probation officer, who would later become a psychologist, remarked, "He could divorce reality sufficiently from his value system so that he could tell you something false and at the same time actually believe he was telling you the truth."


He graduated from high school at 15 and enrolled at North Texas University. Albright began engaging in more severe criminal activity after leaving home at 16, and in his first year of college, he was arrested for being part of a burglary ring that had broken into three stores. He was apprehended with stolen petty cash, two handguns, and a rifle. His overprotective and adoring mother urged the court to allow her to function as his attorney. After he was condemned, she requested to serve the time in his place. The judge, however, turned down the deal, and Charles was sentenced to a year in prison.


Albright, fresh out of prison and determined to make a new start in life, excelled in college while remaining a class clown the entire time. However, one specific prank would have frightening ramifications many years later. After a friend's girlfriend, who had incredibly attractive eyes, broke up with him, Albright found all the images of her his friend had thrown away and cut out the eyeballs. He swapped the eyeballs in his friend's new girlfriend's photo with the old girlfriend's, then pasted the cut-out eyeballs all over the frat house. Nobody saw the warning omen of the twisted creature inside; therefore, everyone thought it was hilarious.


He exhibited an interest in becoming a doctor and a surgeon. He attempted but did not complete pre-medical training. Albright performed poorly on his entrance exams. Instead, he married his college girlfriend and went to work as a high school teacher in Arkansas. There was only one problem: Albright had lied about his credentials, even forging them. Albright had gained access to official school district documents and altered them. The deception was eventually detected when the school he claimed to have graduated from noticed he was lying. He was, however, very well-liked by the pupils and staff, so the school district secretly removed him to save themselves and him from public shame.


Albright instead pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to one year of probation. Albright and his wife relocated and started over. Albright went on a never-ending series of odd jobs while she worked as a teacher. He worked as an aeronautical designer, an illustrator for a patent firm, a carpenter, and even manufactured baseball bats. Albright even obtained his beautician's licence and began working as a hairstylist in a salon. 


He would persuade a friend to pay him $250 to draw his wife's portrait there, claiming to be a great artist. Albright avoided turning in his finished work for weeks, always saying he was almost done, but there was one precise detail that required all of his attention. After getting tired of the excuses, the friend went to Albright's house and spotted the painting. It was indeed quite well done, almost lifelike in its realism. But something was lacking. There were two white voids where his wife's eyes should have been.


He and his wife divorced in 1974 after they separated in 1965. Albright received a two-year prison sentence after being caught stealing hundreds of dollars worth of products from a hardware store. Despite this, he served less than six months before being released. In 1981, after his mother died, while Albright was visiting some friends, he sexually molested their nine-year-old daughter. They reported him, and he was prosecuted. He pleaded guilty and received only probation. He later claimed that he was innocent but had pleaded to avoid a hassle.


Albright met Dixie, a woman from Arkansas, in 1985. He encouraged her to live with him, and she soon began paying his bills and supporting him. Charles took a 'paper route' in the early morning, apparently to visit prostitutes without raising the woman's suspicions.


Albright's first victim would be found on the 13th of December, 1990: Mary Lou Pratt, 33, a well-known Caucasian prostitute in the Oak Cliff neighbourhood (in Dallas). Her body was discovered face-up. She was wearing a T-shirt. A 44-calibre bullet was fired in the back of her head. Albright had battered her before shooting her in the head, leaving her face and chest badly bruised. Police assumed it was a violent john; it was not uncommon for prostitutes in the region to be assaulted by their clients or pimps. Mary, on the other hand, was well-liked and well-known in the community. The police had a cold trail on their hands with no witnesses, no murder weapon, and no clues. 


When Mary's body was autopsied, the only clue to the killer's identity would be revealed. Albright had closed Mary's eyes after leaving her, and when the coroner opened Mary's eyelids, she was astonished to find the eyes missing. It wasn't a sloppy job either; Albright had expertly and deftly sliced out each eyeball such that no surrounding tissue suffered damage. Albright was given the distinction of having his case forwarded to the FBI, which promptly placed him in a national database, identifying him only by his peculiar and horrific tendency for chopping out eyeballs.


Albright struck again two months later. Susan Beth Peterson, a 27-year-old Caucasian prostitute, was discovered nearly naked on the 10th of February, 1991, with her T-shirt pushed up to expose her breasts in the same manner as Pratt. She'd been shot three times: once in the skull, once in the left breast, and once in the back of the head. One bullet had gone through her heart, and another had entered her brain. A clump of her hair lay scattered across her chest. She'd been abandoned in south Dallas, just outside the city limits, and the medical examiner discovered another terrible parallel: her eyes had been surgically removed.


Once again, the eyeballs were removed with exceptional caution, causing minimal injury to the surrounding tissues. The police were afraid of raising attention to the case because it would put pressure on the killer to alter his killing grounds, destroying the police's chances of apprehending him. With no more information, it became apparent that it was best to warn the community and set up a tip line.


The missing eyes, however, were kept secret until they finally leaked to the press. For the time being, all the cops knew was that they were dealing with a guy of remarkable surgical skill and that he was a well-known client of the women he had slain, judging by the ease with which he executed them. They set up sting operations with undercover officers and recorded the licence plates of every car driven by local johns, then compared them to a national database of offenders with unusual records. It all amounted to nothing, and Albright remained off the police's radar for the time being.


Shirley Williams' body was discovered a half block away from a nearby elementary school on the 19th of March. Williams was a 41-year-old African-American prostitute who worked in a completely different neighbourhood. Albright had felt the heat from the cops and shifted hunting grounds, just as the police had said he would. Children had discovered William's naked body slumped up against a street curb. She was found with face bruises and a broken nose, and the cause of death was a gunshot wound through the top and back of her head. Albright, on the other hand, had been in a hurry this time, leaving behind the shattered tip of an X-Acto knife, which he was using to do the procedures.

The Eyeball Killer's three victims
The Eyeball Killer's three victims

When word of the third homicide spread, prostitutes in the vicinity fled to other locations, and some left the city entirely. Brenda White, a long-time street veteran, however, refused to leave. Albright pulled up to her in a white station wagon one night, and she hopped inside. Brenda told him to go to a nearby motel, but he refused, claiming he had a private area elsewhere. Brenda's thoughts began to race as she never permitted new johns to take her somewhere other than the local motel. Albright became enraged when she insisted on getting out of his car. Brenda blasted Albright in the face with mace and sped away, leaving Albright screaming in pain and yelling that he would kill all the hookers.


Retelling her experience to two police officers, who urged her to stay off the streets, prompted the detectives to consider other scenarios prostitutes were stating. One was Veronica Rodriguez, another prostitute infamous for fabricating claims. She, too, claimed to have been attacked by a man who matched the description given by Brenda White. She also stated that a truck driver named Axton Schindler had spared her from the attack. 


Police investigated Axton Schindler's background and learned that his property was owned by Fred Albright, Charles' now deceased father. They also discovered that Fred Albright owned a house near the scene of the first two killings. The name Albright lingered in the officers' minds until one of them remembered a weird tip he had received over the phone. 


A woman who did not want to be identified called in and stated she was acquainted with Mary Pratt, who had introduced her to her new lover. The boyfriend was pleasant and polite, but Pratt revealed that he had an obsession with eyes and that she had discovered a box of X-Acto blades in his attic. The account had gone utterly unnoticed until Deputy Walter Cook happened to recall it when reviewing the case. Albright's photograph was shown to his victims, with one recognising him quickly and the other shivering in dread as she approached his photograph, taking days to build the courage to identify him to the authorities.


A SWAT team stormed Charles Albright's house at 2:30 a.m. on the 22nd of March. As the cops hauled the defeated and silent Albright away in handcuffs, his befuddled wife stumbled out of bed in her nightgown, crying in panic.


The evidence at trial was mostly circumstantial; Albright had gone to great lengths to avoid leaving any traces. The trial began on the 13th of December, 1991. The only substantial proof was forensic evidence, which consisted of hairs discovered at Williams' murder scene. A hair comparison specialist testified during the trial that the hairs collected at the Williams murder site matched Albright's hair. 


DNA tests later revealed that the hairs were from a dog. The jury had previously deliberated and found Charles Albright guilty on the 18th of December, 1991. Albright was found guilty merely of Shirley Williams' murder by the jury, but he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


When asked about the missing eyeballs, he insisted that he had never taken out their eyeballs. Instead, he claimed that the cops did it to strengthen their case. Charles Albright was an inmate at the John Montford Psychiatric Unit until he died in 2020 at 87. Albright's case gained significant media attention due to the gruesome nature of his crimes and the mysterious missing eyeballs. Despite his claims of innocence, the jury's decision to convict him solely for Shirley Williams' murder reflected the strength of the evidence presented during the trial. Throughout his time in prison, Albright remained a subject of fascination and speculation among true crime enthusiasts and psychologists studying psychopathy. His death in 2020 marked the end of a notorious chapter in criminal history. 

And that concludes the story of Charles Frederick Albright, The Eyeball Killer. Leave your comments below!

Until next time, ciao!



I'm a vegan with a passion for sustainability and clean, cruelty-free products. I mainly write lifestyle, wellness and self-care articles. Since I'm a true crime enthusiast, sometimes I also write about true crime and post videos on my two YouTube channels.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! If you ask a question I will answer it asap. – Cosette

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