The NYPD is continuing its investigation into a Connecticut man suspected of killing a 29-year-old Queens woman and raping a woman in Brooklyn—and who has claimed to have killed others. Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said on Tuesday that Danueal Drayton "has made statements alluding to his participation in other crimes, including other homicides" but "everything has to be vetted at this time."
Samantha Stewart, a 29-year-old nurse, was found strangled, with her teeth knocked out, in her Jamaica home on July 17th. Her brothers made the horrifying discovery after they couldn't reach her on the phone.
Apparently Stewart had met Drayton, 27, on Tinder and, after killing her, he allegedly used her credit card to buy a ticket to Los Angeles. Police officers found his car at JFK Airport and let the LAPD know. On July 24, LAPD officers arrested Drayton at an apartment in North Hollywood where they also found a woman who was bound and being held against her will. He reportedly met that woman after "sharing an Uber ride."
After his arrest, Drayton reportedly claimed to have killed other people in California, Connecticut, and New York. Chief of Detectives Shea said, "We have not been able to verify" a Bronx homicide that Drayton took credit for or "match it up to an open homicide" at this point.
Now it turns out that Drayton had been in custody of Nassau authorities after harassing his ex-girlfriend and slashing her tires, but a judge released him a few weeks before Stewart was killed.
The ex in the complaint said he strangled her on June 13th and also sent her a Facebook message, "This is just the beginning, first your tires, then I cut your break line, and then I set your car on fire or I blow it up." She said she saw him slashing her tires. However, the judge was not aware of Drayton's long history of violent incidents in Connecticut and let him go on July 5th.
According to WTNH, he was convicted of strangulation in 2011; convicted of unlawful restraint, violating a protective order and violating probation in 2013; convicted of unlawful restraint, interfering with an officer and violating a protective order in 2015; and, this year, convicted of second degree harassment, which resulted in a suspended sentence and probation.
A Nassau County court spokesperson said, "In this particular case the judge carefully considered the facts before her and made her determination based on all the current, relevant and factual information that was provided to the court at that time. It would have been impossible for the judge at that time to foresee the allegations that are presently unfolding and coming to light with regard to this defendant."
This wasn't good enough for Stewart's father, Kenneth Stewart, who said, "How could something like that happen? There is a failure of the system" and "How could they release a monster like that to be roaming the streets so dangerous?"
The NYPD has linked Drayton to a Park Slope rape on June 17th by using "facial recognition technology," the Daily News reports. The victim, who met Drayton over Tinder, said she was choked and assaulted.
Chief of Detectives Shea Tweeted last week, "When we captured Danuel Drayton in LA for the murder of Queens nurse Samantha Stewart, he had another victim held captive. He's off the streets but may have victimized others via online dating sites. Need help or have info? Call 800-577-TIPS/ sex crimes hotline 212-267-RAPE." On Tuesday, Shea said the department had received "zero calls" about Drayton so far. "I don't want there to be other victims," he said, but hopes that anyone with information contacts the NYPD.
The Long Island ex-girlfriend did come forward, describing how Drayton kept telling her, "I'm going to kill you." Zynea Barney told WCBS 2 that she met him on the Plenty of Fish dating app and dated him for six months.
"He choked me. I still have the mark here to this date from him sticking his finger so far down my throat," she said.
A funeral was held for Stewart on Monday. A colleague at Northshore Hospital said, "We miss her a lot, she was the best nurse on our floor."
Drayton is being held on $1.25 million bail in LA. He has pleaded not guilty to rape and attempted murder charges there and will, at some point, be extradited to NYC to face murder charges.