Police think they may have a serial killer on their hands.
Danueal Drayton, 27, from New Haven, Connecticut, is accused of murdering nurse Samantha Stewart in her bedroom in Queens on July 17. However, he could be responsible for up to six more murders.
He was captured on July 26 after a nationwide manhunt that ended in California.
When police found him in Los Angeles, he had a hostage with him—a woman he met on a dating site that he had raped and tortured, according to WCBS-TV in New York City. The woman may very well had suffered the same fate as the nurse, police said, if they didn't arrest him in time.
Police are just now uncovering the breadth of Drayton's potential targets.
“I believe that there will be more victims,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said.
As many as six more bodies
When he was arrested, Drayton confessed to killing more people, according to the NY Daily News. He told authorities he didn't have control over his actions.
“My body did this, not my mind,” a police source quoted Drayton telling investigators, according to the Daily News. “I didn’t want to do this. My body made me do this.”
Police say he used dating apps like Tinder to choose his targets.
He admitted to police that he killed two people in Connecticut, according to the Daily News, as well as a murder in the Bronx and one in Suffolk County. He said he was responsible for another murder in either Nassau County or Queens, and potentially a murder in California. Though the claims could just be the ramblings of an unhinged person, police are investigating.
Samantha Stewart's murder was exceptionally brutal. Her dead body was discovered wrapped in a sheet on the bed in her bedroom, a pool of blood by her head, according to the Washington Post. All her teeth were knocked out. She had been killed by trauma to her neck and head.
Her brother discovered her body.
“I turned her over trying to shake her and say ‘Samantha,’” her brother Kenneth Stewart told WABC-TV. “No response. I realized when I turned her over, she was dead.”
A violent past
Drayton, who is also suspected in the rape of a 23-year-old woman from last month in Brooklyn—again from Tinder—has a lengthy rap sheet, according to the Hartford Courant.
He was arrested five times between 2011 and February of 2018 in Connecticut—one time for a second-degree strangulation charge. Other charges include unlawful restraint, violating an order of protection, and harassment, for which he was on probation.
On June 30, he was arrested in Nassau County, New York, and accused of choking an ex-girlfriend while they were having an argument. He was released without bail for that case on July 7, something the prosecutor argued against.
“It would have been impossible for the judge at that time to foresee the allegations that are presently unfolding,” a spokesperson for the Nassau court told WABC-TV.
As for the 23-year-old rape victim, NYPD cops say they used facial recognition software to link Drayton to the crime. The woman said she was choked to unconsciousness on June 17 and when she woke up he was trying to rape her, according to the NY Daily News. She had taken a picture of Drayton at a pizza parlor before he assaulted her.
The common denominator
Drayton met women using Tinder and other dating sites, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said, and as for the woman he held captive in California and the murdered nurse, he allegedly met them first in a public place.
“The common denominator in these two cases—one being a murder, one being a rape—is dating websites,” Shea said, according to WCBS-TV. “So this individual is known to us and it is believed by us that this individual uses dating web sites to meet women and then victimize these women.”
How they caught him
Drayton bought a one-way ticket to California following Stewart's death. He contacted his next victim—the woman he allegedly raped and tortured before he was captured—when he got to the West Coast. Police traced his white Ford, the Daily News reported, from Stewart's house to a Kennedy Airport lot. Police found Stewart's AAA card and Drayton's release papers from Nassau County in the vehicle.
After his arrest, Drayton was put in jail in California on charges of attempted murder, forcible rape, sexual penetration by foreign object, and false imprisonment, according to court documents. He's being held on $1.25 million bail. On Friday, according to the Daily News, he refused to board the bus to go to court. He was rescheduled for Monday.
“I will fly over there and volunteer to take him out of the cell,” Kenneth Stewart, 59, father of the slain nurse said, according to the Daily News. “A monster, pure evil…This monster gets out and has the nerve to fly to L.A. to commit another crime, to destroy another family.”