Texan Charles Albright Is a Real ‘Corinthian’ Killer
Warning: contains mild spoilers for The Sandman on Netflix. And some gruesome real-life details.
If you read the comics, or if you've been watching The Sandman on Netflix, you've been introduced to the human-shaped nightmare known as The Corinthian. The Corinthian is a uniquely terrifying creature, with teeth for eyes. But he's so much more than that: he's handsome, fit and charming. But you'll pay for that eyeful -when he cuts out your eyes.
The Corinthian is a nightmare, yes, but one borne of reality. I really love what Nightmare Country writer James Tynion IV says about him:
If you read a lot of true crime, you can see how the entire mythology of serial killers is woven into the essence of him as a character in this really powerful and terrifying way. He's essentially the patron saint of serial killers.
Symbolically speaking, The Corinthian is every serial killer. But he has an uncanny resemblance to one in particular: Charles Albright, from Texas.
Charles Albright was described as "gentlemanly" "popular" and "polite" and particularly good-looking in high school:
He was remarkably well rounded: president of the French club, business manager of the yearbook, member of the school choir, halfback on the football team. When he signed up for a drawing course, the art professor was so impressed with Charlie’s good looks that he made him the class model.
Charles had an unusual childhood hobby: the taxidermy of birds. But his adoptive mother was too cheap to shell out for glass eyes, and instead had Charles sew buttons onto the birds. Imagine seeing that on display in a glass cabinet, because it was. It was this expertise that Albright would call on when removing the eyes from his victims.
The killer had to know how to slip a knife around the eyes, making sure not to injure the adjoining skin, and then cut the six major muscles holding each eye in the socket, as well as the rope-tough optical nerve. With the eyelids shut, it was impossible to tell the eyes were missing. Surely, whoever did this had to have had a lot of practice on someone, or something, else.
Albright was caught after being identified by the prostitutes he frequented- he had been violent with them, and they had seen him with one or more of the three dead and eyeless prostitutes found near Albright's childhood home and his current paper route. He was 58. He had previous convictions of theft, forgery, robbery and the molestation of a 14 year old girl. After searching his property, police found a copy of Gray's Anatomy stuffed in the walls.
Albright was convicted in December 1991 for the murder of Shirely Williams, based primarily on hairs found on the victim that were similar to Albright. The case was circumstantial, perhaps even flimsy, but the jury brought back a guilty conviction. Albright thought he'd win an appeal- he didn't. Albright died in the John Montford Psychiatric Unit in Lubbock, Texas in 2020.
Nobody ever found the missing eyes. Perhaps Albright did as The Corinthian would do.
For an excellent deep dive into the life of Charles Albright, read the Texas Monthly piece "See No Evil". For more on The Corinthian, read the Sandman comics.