Fugitive charged for 2018 strangling death of Queens nurse he met on Tinder: DA
Danueal Drayton, 31, was arraigned Friday on charges of murder, sexual misconduct, grand larceny and more crimes and faces up to 25 years to life in prison in connection with 29-year-old Samantha Stewart's death.
According to the charges, Stewart met Drayton on the dating app Tinder. The two went on a date on July 16, 2018, and later went to her 145th Road home in Springfield Gardens, Queens. At some point, Drayton allegedly beat and strangled the victim before having sex with her dead body.
The next day, Stewart's brother found her body wrapped in a blanket. He then fled the crime scene in a white van that was found at Kennedy International Airport a day later. The defendant allegedly bought a ticket to California using one of the victim's credit cards. He was apprehended in Los Angeles on July 24, 2018, by members of the NYPD’s Fugitive Task Force.
In 2018, Drayton told the New York Daily News from a Los Angeles jail, where he was in custody at the time on charges for allegedly assaulting a woman whom he held hostage, that he recalled strangling Stewart and hearing "voices" urging him to strangle her.
“I really liked her,” he said. “I didn’t want to kill her. It’s mind control. They use direct energy weapons on me to control my mind.”
The Daily News reports that ahead of Stewart's slaying, Drayton was freed without bail where he was accused of choking an ex-girlfriend on Long Island.
The defendant now faces an 18-count indictment following his extradition, charged with second-degree murder, fourth-degree grand larceny, petit larceny, sexual misconduct, second and third-degree identity theft, third-degree unlawful possession of personal identification information and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
"This family deserves justice. This was a brutal crime that makes every person using a dating app fearful. The victim was duped into going out on a date with the defendant, who played a charmer online but was in fact an alleged sexual predator," Katz said.
She added, "The defendant is accused of brutally beating and then killing this innocent woman in her own home. After this heinous act of violence, the defendant fled the state to escape prosecution. Now back in our custody, this defendant will be held to account for his alleged actions."
He is set to return to court on May 22.