Webinar presenter Brandon Birmingham answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Enucleated: A Case Study of Charles Albright, the Eyeball Killer. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: So, a number of people are asking about the eyeballs. What did he do with the eyeballs, were they ever found?
Judge Brandon Birmingham: No, no, they weren’t. The FBI was involved in the investigation, the police officers, the prosecutor, Skip Hollandsworth. Everybody wanted to know where they were. They were never located. It’s kind of fun I mean, it’s kind of morbid, but it’s a fun thing to wonder about. What did he do with it? I always thought he kept him I don’t know why you would take him. He like trophies, remember the taxidermy that he had before, and he certainly was a packrat. They tore those places upside down. They never found them. I always thought I’d put them somewhere where nobody would find them in the event that he ever got out. Maybe he did. When he died, I also kind of thought he was going to somehow figure out a way to deliver a letter to Mr. Hollandsworth, who wrote this wonderful article, and I can’t tell you enough how great that article is. But to just say, “Okay, skip, here you go, look in this, I don’t know, safety deposit box or something, and you’ll find a treat.” But we never found them, we don’t know.
Audience Question: Were the investigators or psychiatrists able to determine why he removed the eyes from the victims. Some people might say that the serial killer may have thought of the victim as seeing too much in their lifetime. And so, removing the eyes is a form of quote-unquote healing with her. Given that he had with so many prostitutes. She was also wondering, what made him decide to kill them ultimately?
Judge Brandon Birmingham: Well, I don’t think you could accomplish enucleation without killing them, or at least sedating them and if you did then they would know who you were if they ever woke up, you know, even though they didn’t have their eyes. But Skip asked him that question, and he said that, “Maybe the killer, because he never admitted, maybe the killer thought that there was the image was burned on the back of your retina of the killer right before you die.” And that’s what he said, now, though, it’s not true. But maybe he did. I happen to think that they were trophies. He was fascinated when I say fascinated, there was a story about him cutting the eyes out and putting them all over the dorm room. And another one where he was an accomplished painter and a friend of his paid them money to paint his wife, a portrait of his wife. And after some time, the friend goes over there and says, “Hey, man, you know, where’s this painting? I gave you this money, I don’t have a painting.” And Albright shows and he said, I just don’t have a quite finished yet. And he unveiled this beautiful painting was meticulously done and very realistic. The problem was that there were no eyes. He couldn’t get the eyes, right? But after some time, he finally did. And when he showed him to the man to this, to his friend, you know he said that the painting was impeccable. The eyes followed you around the room. They were the most lifelike things he’s ever seen in a painting in his life. Maybe it was just a trophy of fascination with these eyes.
Audience Question: About the significance of the silver bullet. Was it, basically become a calling card, or was it just simply because it was an unusual bullet that was the cause of death?
Judge Brandon Birmingham: It was an unusual bullet that was the cause of death that showed that Albright had possessed some means to the crime. This crime was accomplished with an aluminum bullet. He possessed an aluminum bullet at the same time in the same caliber. They found them unfired ones in his house. So that’s a tie. Is that enough for a murder conviction by itself? Of course not, but it’s a tie. And in other words, you want to establish what caused the crime to happen, including the instruments, and see if you can tie those instruments or those causes to a person. That’s the homicide chain in its simplest form. And they did have that connection, as well.
Audience Question: Was there evidence of sexual assault with any of the victims?
Judge Brandon Birmingham: There was no evidence of semen. I think when you look at the appearance of the body in the way they were left, that to me is evidence of a sexual assault. You know, they were left naked on all three of them were. Their chests were exposed on two of them, and Ms. Williams was, was totally naked. Violent trauma, and in addition to the gunshots, I didn’t go into this, but there was blunt force trauma to all of them. In other words, could be a punch, could be a pistol whip, whatever caused the trauma, but there was blunt force trauma as well as bruising, about the body. So, this was not just a shooting, okay. There was violent trauma homicidal violence that went along with it.
Audience Question: Had there been behavioral issues before, like, behavior issues in school, bar fights, anything like that? What was the history of his behavior previous to this?
Judge Brandon Birmingham: Well, he was a fraudster. I mean, I mentioned very briefly that he forged a diploma and signatures to be a high school teacher in Crandell, and he was a very good one for a year or two. He was a coach of the football team, he won the championship, and he didn’t have a degree. He got caught stealing, he had gotten also caught for having sex with an underage girl years before this case, he got probation for that and lived it down, I believe. There was that. But there was mischief all along the way. That’s the mischief, you know. And from the time that he was little all the way up until he was in college. Skip’s article talks a lot about that. So, if you want to pull up the link on that, you can read all about it, it’s fascinating.
Audience Question: Was there any relevance or symbolism to the placement and display of the bodies?
Judge Brandon Birmingham: I think the value, to me the value was the location. In other words, who had access to the location where they close enough to where Albright was? In other words, do you have time to go from the paper route to these places? And they also indicated that he was in a hurry. The field was across the street from some houses. It wasn’t a field in the middle of nowhere, this was a field, it was really close to a road, it’s a good dump site if nobody sees you coming in and out, and at 3 or 4 in the morning, they wouldn’t. So, you come in, you dump the body, and you get rid of, and I think that’s really how the value was, that it went more and was more consistent with what Albright did, and how he must have done it then with somebody else.