What to Know
- Police say they have a person in custody in the killing of a 29-year-old Queens nurse found naked and strangled with her teeth knocked out
- The suspect is a man the victim, Samantha Stewart, recently started dating after meeting on a popular dating app, according to her family
- The suspect was captured in California and had another woman captive; he kept her in her apartment by force after a date, cops allege
A 27-year-old man suspected in the killing of a Queens nurse last week may be linked to other violent crimes, including a sex assault in Brooklyn and a kidnapping in California, multiple law enforcement officials say.
Danueal Drayton is accused of killing of a New York City nurse Samantha Stewart, who was found naked and wrapped in a blanket in her bedroom last week.
He was arrested in California with another person held captive, and police fear he may have preyed on multiple women using online dating sites, authorities said Thursday.
Drayton was taken into custody in Los Angeles "prior to possibly taking another life," according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea. When Drayton was arrested by the Regional Fugitive Task Force in North Hollywood, "he had another victim held captive," Shea said.
The local district attorney's office in California said Drayton allegedly tried to kill that captive, a woman, in her own apartment. Prosecutors say the Brooklyn man strangled and sexually assaulted the 28-year-old woman and wouldn't let her leave the apartment after a date. Drayton faces charges of attempted murder, forcible rape, false imprisonment by violence and sexual penetration by a foreign object in that case. He is expected to be arraigned Monday.
Meanwhile, the concern has turned to how many possible victims may be out there. Shea tweeted earlier this week, "He's off the streets but may have victimized others via online dating sites."
Drayton was known to law enforcement previously. He was arrested in Nassau County in June. Court documents say he was charged with criminal mischief, trespassing, and strangulation for allegedly attacking his former girlfriend in Inwood Park and slashing her tires.
A judge ordered Drayton to be released on his own recognizance July 5, over the prosecutor's objection, according to the Nassau County district attorney's office.
Kenneth Stewart, the father of slain nurse Stewart, told News 4 the suspect recently started dating his daughter; they met on a popular app.
Stewart, 29, was a registered nurse at Long Island Jewish Hospital and a beloved role model for her brothers and sister, her family said. Her brother discovered her unconscious with injuries to her neck and head inside her Springfield Gardens home July 17, according to the NYPD.
The brother said he found her naked and wrapped in a blanket in a bedroom, according to Kenneth Stewart. He added that she appeared to have been strangled and that her tongue was sticking out and her teeth were knocked out.
She was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
Kenneth said the family had never met the suspect.
"The last place they went, a restaurant in Brooklyn," he said. "My daughter paid with her credit card."
Surveillance video from the restaurant helped in identifying the suspected killer, the father said.
"She was tortured," said Kenneth Stewart. "Tied up and tortured for hours. I just imagine the pain she endure in the last moments of her life."
The devastated family wants to protect other women from the perils of online dating as they prepare to say goodbye to their own loved one.
"What I would like to say to young women dating, you need to be careful," said aunt Ruby Dixon. "Need to let someone in their family know who they are dating."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Drayton was charged in the death of Samantha Stewart. He remains a person of interest.