A traveling carnival is known for bringing laughter, fun, and an air of mystery with them from town to town, but this particular east coast carnival brought something else; murder.
In a span of just 18 days James Michael Wright of Mendota, Va., allegedly killed three women. The 23 year old met all three victims at his job. The traveling carnival hired Wright as a subcontractor for James H. Drew Exposition, and this gave him the opportunity to meet his victims. The Georgia based amusement company had yet to immediately comment on the murders, and when they did they claimed they had no record of Wright’s employment with them.
Victims include two Tennessee women; 22 year old Elizabeth Vanmeter, 25 year old Athina Hopson, and 17 year old Jocelyn Alsup of Georgia.
While Wright met all three victims through his work, the murders did not occur at the carnival, rather near his home.
Vanmeter met her early demise on February 28, 2017 when she and Wright were allegedly engaged in a fight and he shot her. Wright then buried her body in a shallow grave to conceal his crime.
Alsup met her fate at the hands of Wright on March 09 after engaging in sex in the woods near his home. He claimed to have accidentally shot her while trying to shoot an animal and missed. He then proceeded to bury her body beneath some logs in the forest. Wright met 17 year old Alsup through her mother who was a co-worker of his at the traveling carnival.
Lastly Hopson met her death at the end of Wright’s firearm on March 17 when they were on a walk together. He reported to have tripped and fell when his gun suddenly discharged and went off, killing Hopson. He then loaded her lifeless body into the back of his truck but it fell out when he was driving over a bridge and rolled down the bank into a river where he decided not to retrieve it.
He insists all three shootings were accidental, yet given the evidence collected by law enforcement Washington County Sheriff Fred Newman told reporters “We find that hard to believe based on the information we have.”
Police are deeming Wright a serial killer, and an investigation is underway in search for any additional victims. Given the nature of his work, law enforcement agencies are examining if towns the carnival made their stops at have reported any missing persons during Wright’s employment and time with the company.
While Wright has had no history of criminal activity he is currently being held without bond on three counts of capital murder. If convicted Wright can face the death penalty.