Carnival worker accused of murdering two women, teen he met at state fair

A Washington County, Va., carnival worker has been charged in the deaths of two missing Tennessee women and a missing 17-year-old from Georgia.

James Michael Wright, a 23-year-old who worked as a sub-contractor for traveling carnival company Drew Expositions, has been charged with three counts of capital murder following an investigation into the disappearance of 25-year-old Athina Hopson, who was reported missing by her mother on March 21, according to Washington County Virginia Sheriff Fred Newman.

Additional charged filed against him include three counts of concealing a dead body and three counts of using a firearm in commission of a felony.

Sheriff Newman said the Johnson City Tennessee Police Department contacted his office about two weeks ago to set up an interview with Wright after receiving a tip that Hopson was last seen in the suspect's company. 

Police obtained a search warrant's for Wright's truck following the interview, where they discovered the missing woman's cellphone.

On May 9, during a second police interrogation, Wright allegedly confessed to killing Hopson and two other female victims; 22-year-old Elizabeth Marie Vanmeter, of Carter County, Tenn., and 17-year-old Joslyn M. Alsup, of Cobb County, Ga.

Wright allegedly told police he shot and killed Vanmeter, who was reported missing on March 17, following an argument around Feb. 28. He also allegedly admitted to shooting and killing Alsup around March 9, just one day after she was reported missing on March 8.

On or about March 17, police say Wright shot and killed Hopson and was transporting the victim in the back of his truck when her body fell out and rolled down an embankment. He told detectives he then left her body in a nearby river.

Wright claimed each slaying was an "accident," according to Sheriff Newman. 

The remains of Vanmeter and Alsup were recovered near Wright’s home on May 10, one in a shallow grave and another near a pile of logs, ABC News reports. Investigators are still looking for Hopson's body.

Alsup's mother, Cynthia Butterworth, told WSB-TV that her daughter met Wright at the North Georgia State Fair in September, while the teen's father was working for the same company as the suspect.

Butterworth said Wright was in charge of handling the ponies at the time he met her daughter.

"He was the pony guy. That's what we called him: The pony dude," Butterworth told the station.

"He is unfit to even be called a monster because he is the scum of all earth," she continued. "We have been looking for her. We had everybody out. And come to find out she’s been gone this whole time."

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