Carnival Worker Arrested for String of Three Murders in Multiple States

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. – A Virginia man who worked in a traveling carnival confessed last week to the murders of two women and one teenage girl in Tennessee and Georgia, police said.

James Michael Wright, 23, was arrested Thursday and charged with three counts of capital murder in the deaths of the two missing Tennessee women and a 17-year-old Georgia girl, the Washington County Virginia Sheriff’s office said.

Sheriff Fred Newman said the Johnson City Tennessee Police Department contacted him two weeks ago. They wanted an interview with Wright because authorities believed he was the last person to have contact with Athina Hopson, 25, who had been reported missing March 21 by her mother, Fox News reported.

During an initial interview with the suspect, police said they gathered enough evidence to obtain a search warrant for Wright’s truck. During a subsequent search, they recovered Hopson’s cell phone.

Moreover, on May 9, the sheriff’s department said Wright came into the office and confessed to killing Hopson and two other women.


James MIchael Wright, 23, was charged with three counts of capital murder for the deaths of two missing Tennessee women and one 17-year-old girl from Georgia. (Washington County Virginia Sheriff’s office)

During a series of confessionals, the carnival worker reportedly told police that, on or around February 28, he shot and killed 22-year-old Elizabeth Marie Vanmeter of Carter County, Tenn. He also confessed to shooting 17-year-old Joslyn M. Alsup of Cobb County, Ga., on or around March 9, authorities said.

Furthermore, Wright informed investigators where the bodies were located. As a result, searches on May 10 resulted in the discovery of remains believed to be those of Vanmeter and Alsup. One of the bodies was found in a shallow grave, the other near some logs, authorities said.

Police have yet to locate the body of Hopson, which allegedly fell out of Wright’s truck and “rolled down an embankment” near a bridge on Norkye Road. Consequently, Wright then placed her body in the river, officials said.

Wright, who works as a sub-contracted employee for the James H. Drew Carnival, reportedly met the women through his work, authorities said. One of the victims, Alsup, was the daughter of one of Wright’s coworkers.

Wright is being held without bail in the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail.

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