On Monday, authorities announced that a man from Virginia had been charged with the murder of two Tennessee women and a teenage girl from Georgia. He had met them through his job as a carnival worker.
The man arrested is James Michael Wright, a 23 year old who’s been accused of doing the killings near his own home in Washington County in Virginia. The killings happened over the span of three weeks, beginning in late February and ending mid March.
While Wright admitted to all three killings, he claimed and insisted that they were all accidental murders. Investigators said this was “hard to believe,” as reported by Washington County Sheriff Fred Newman at a news conference Monday afternoon.
The three women killed were identified as Elizabeth Vanmeter, a 22 year old from Carter County, Tennessee, Athina Hopson, a 25 year old from Johnson City, Tennessee, and Joycelyn Alsup, a 17 year old from Cobb County, Georgia.
Court documents state that Wright told investigators full details about his claimed accidental killings and how he disposed of their bodies.
Details of the killings
The following information is according to the court documents.
Wright confessed to the investigators that he fatally shot and killed Vanmeter on the night of February 28th. He stated that the killing happened after they were in a fight. Later that night, he buried her body near his own home in Mendota, Virginia. A caretaker said they she hadn’t been seen since February 28th, but she was not reported missing from Carter County until March 17th.
The next murder was Alsup, the 17 year old. Wright stated that he fatally shot and killed her accidentally after they had sex in the woods. He claimed that he was attempting to shoot an animal but accidentally shot her instead. He then covered her body with logs next to a creek, also near his own home. Alsup was murdered on March 9th, and was reported missing a day earlier.
The third killing was also claimed to be an accident by Wright. He said that he fatally shot and killed Hopson while they were taking a walk together on March 17th. Wright said that he accidentally shot her when he tripped and fell. He stated that he put her body in the back of his truck, but as he was driving over a bridge her body fell out. He claimed that he was unable to retrieve her body from the river and left it there. Hopson was reported missing from Johnson City a few days after her murder on March 21st.
Remains believed to be Vanmeter and Alsup were recovered, as stated at the news conference on Monday. It’s also stated that autopsies were still being performed on the bodies. Hopson’s body has still yet to be found.
Authorities have no reason to believe that there was any other killings that took place, but they continue to investigate due to the fact that the carnival traveled extensively through the East Coast.