Carnival worker serial killer, admits to killing two Tennessee women.
A Virginia man has been charged with killing two Tennessee women and a teenage girl he met while working with a traveling carnival, authorities announced Monday.
James Michael Wright, 23, is accused of carrying out the killings near his home in Washington County, Virginia, over the span of three weeks from late February to mid March.
Wright admitted he shot and killed the three victims but insisted he did so accidentally, a claim investigators find “hard to believe,” Washington County Sheriff Fred Newman said at a news conference Monday afternoon.
The sheriff identified the victims as Elizabeth Vanmeter, 22, of Carter County, Tennessee; Joslyn Alsup, 17, of Cobb County, Georgia; and Athina Hopson, 25, of Johnson City, Tennessee.
Court documents obtained by WJHL say Wright gave investigators details about how he killed the women and disposed of their bodies.
According to the documents:
Wright told investigators he fatally shot Vanmeter after they had a fight on Feb. 28. He said he buried her body near his home in Mendota, Virginia. Vanmeter was reported missing from Carter County on March 17; a caretaker said she had not been seen since Feb. 28.
Wright said he fatally shot Alsup on March 9 after they had sex in the woods near his home. He claimed he was trying to shoot an animal when he shot her instead. He said he covered her body with logs next to a creek near his home. Alsup was reported missing from Cobb County on March 8.
Wright said he shot and killed Hopson while they were on a walk on March 17. He told investigators he shot her when he tripped and fell. Wright said he put her body in the back of his truck but that it fell out of the vehicle while he was driving over a bridge. Wright said he could not retrieve the body and left it in a river. Hopson was reported missing from Johnson City on March 21.
At the news conference Monday, Newman said authorities had recovered remains believed to be Vanmeter and Alsup, and that autopsies were being performed. Crews were still searching for the body of Hopson.
Wright met all three victims while working as a subcontractor for James H. Drew Exposition, Newman said, adding that Alsup was the daughter of one of Wright’s coworkers. It’s unclear how long Wright had been working for the carnival.