Danueal Drayton is a suspected killer who New York Police Department officers say was using dating apps to target potential victims. 27-year-old Drayton from New Haven, Connecticut is accused of murdering a woman in New York City.
Authorities arrested him on the other side of the country, in Hollywood. Los Angeles police say Drayton had a woman tied up against her will when they found him.
According to inmate records, Drayton remained in the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as of September 2018.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Danueal Drayton is Accused of Strangling a Young Woman to Death in Queens After They Allegedly Met on Tinder
The NYPD has been investigating Drayton as a suspect in the murder of nurse Samantha Stewart. The 29-year-old woman was found dead in her home in Jamaica, Queens on July 17. Her brothers went to check on her because she was not responding to their phone calls.
Members of her family told the New York Post that Stewart was found wrapped in a white sheet on the floor of her bedroom. Her teeth had been knocked out.
The New York City Medical Examiner listed the cause of death as “manual strangulation” and it was investigated as a homicide. Stewart’s funeral was July 28.
Officials with the NYPD say Stewart and Drayton had allegedly met on the dating app Tinder. He then used her credit card to buy a plane ticket to California.
After his subsequent arrest in California (see information below) Drayton spoke to the New York Daily News from behind bars. He told them that voices in his head told him to kill Stewart. “I really liked her. I didn’t want to kill her. They told me she had to die… I’m a passenger in my own body.”
2. Police Connected the Murder to a Separate Rape Investigation in Brooklyn
New York City Police became aware of Danueal Drayton while they investigated two separate investigations: the murder of Samantha Stewart, and the alleged rape of a 23-year-old woman. The reported rape occurred in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn in June. The victim told police that Drayton choked her when she said she wanted to leave, and then raped her. They also met on Tinder.
Detectives explained that DNA evidence revealed their potential suspect, Danueal Drayton. They compared DNA from the alleged rape scene to DNA discovered at the scene of the murder. The evidence concluded it was likely the same person had committed both crimes.
Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea spoke with reporters July 26, He explained there was a “common denominator in these two cases,” and that was the use of dating apps. “So this individual is known to us and it is believed by us that this individual uses dating websites to meet women and then victimize these women.”
Police are encouraging other potential victims to come forward. Detectives say they believe Drayton used multiple dating websites and apps to meet women.
3. Danueal Drayton Was Found In North Hollywood with a Woman Who Had Been Tied Up Against Her Will
New York City Police detectives discovered that Drayton had traveled to Southern California after Samantha Stewart’s death. They tracked him to an apartment in north Hollywood, and alerted Los Angeles officers to his location.
The LAPD arrested arrested Drayton in the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, July 24. Investigators found a woman with him, who they say Drayton was holding captive. She had been tied up against her will. Prosecutors say the woman and Drayton had gone out on a date before heading back to her apartment.
According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Drayton has been charged with attempted murder, forcible rape, sexual penetration by a foreign object and false imprisonment. Jail records show that bond was set at $1.25 million in the Los Angeles case. On Monday July 30, Drayton pleased not guilty to the charges.
4. Danueal Drayton Has Been Arrested Before on Accusations of Domestic Violence
The local CBS affiliate in New York City reports that Drayton was known to police. He had been arrested very recently, in June 2018. An ex-girlfriend reportedly accused him of choking her at Inwood Park in Nassau County.
Bond was set at $1,000. But on June 5, the judge dropped the bail requirement. The district attorney urged the judge to reconsider, but Drayton was allowed to go home.
WCBS also discovered that Drayton has been arrested at least five times in Connecticut. One of those arrests, in 2011, was for an alleged strangulation.
Samantha Stewart’s father Kenneth responded to this information. “I’m devastated by my loss of my daughter, but hearing this news now it really, really shocks me, throws me over the edge.” He also expressed relief that Drayton was arrested and the the woman found with him in California will be ok.
5. Tinder Has Not Commented on the Suspect’s Alleged Use of Dating Apps
Police have accused Drayton of using Tinder and other dating apps to target women. Tinder has not commented on this allegation. But this is not the first time someone has been attacked after a Tinder date.
One horrifying example of this was the case of 24-year-old Sydney Loofe from Lincoln, Nebraska. The 24-year-old was found dead in late 2017. Investigators say Loofe had been strangled. Her body was then dismembered, put into garbage bags and thrown into a field. One of the two people accused in the gruesome murder was someone Loofe had met on Tinder. She was killed after going to meet up for a second date.
Tinder lists several safety precautions on its website. Among them, Tinder urges people to meet dates in public places, tell friends and family where you are going, and to provide your own transportation.
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