Authorities in Virginia say a traveling carnival worker has confessed to multiple murders.
According to WJHL, 23-year-old James Wright says he dumped the bodies of female victims from three separate homicides in the same body of water — the North Fork Holston River near Mendota in Washington County. The women had been reported missing earlier this year, specifically a few weeks beginning at the end of February.
Officials from local rescue agencies took part in a search of the area on Friday.
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According to court records, Wright told investigators that he had met each of the victims through his position with a carnival. He is accused of storing a .22-caliber rifle at his grandparents’ residence, using the same firearm in each homicide.
The first alleged victim was Elizabeth Vanmeter, who was reported missing in mid-March. He reportedly told police that he accidentally killed her after a fight on February 28 and initially buried her body near his home.
A little more than a week later, he reportedly confessed to killing a 17-year-old girl, fatally shooting her after the two had sex in the woods. Police reports indicate he claimed the shooting was accidental and he had been aiming at an animal, he buried the girl’s body under some logs near a creek in the same area as the first victim.
Wright said he shot a third victim, Athina Hopson, as the two walked together on March 17. Reports indicate he told investigators that he tripped and accidentally shot her, claiming her body fell out of his vehicle as he attempted to transport her to an area hospital.
Court records indicate he is expected to face multiple criminal charges including three counts each of capital murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a murder, and concealment of a dead body.
“Although he stated they were accidental we find that hard to believe based on the information that we have,” said Washington County Sheriff Fred Newman.
He said authorities are reviewing other area stops for the James Drew carnival to determine if Wright might be linked to any other missing persons cases, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Wright remained behind bars without bond as of the latest updates available and could face the death penalty if convicted of capital murder.
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[Featured: James Michael Wright, Washington County Sheriff’s Office/Elizabeth Vanmeter, Facebook]