A man arrested in the brutal murder of a Queens, NY, woman may have been using dating apps like Tinder to target women, and according to police, could be linked to as many as seven murders.
On Thursday, police arrested 27-year-old Danuel Drayton in North Hollywood for the murder of 29-year-old Samantha Stewart, who was found dead in her Springfield Gardens home on July 17, according to ABC 7.
New York police alleged Drayton strangled Stewart inside her home. She was discovered by her brother wrapped in a blanket, NBC New York reported.
When Drayton was arrested in North Hollywood, authorities found another woman tied up and held captive in his hotel room.
He has been charged with attempted murder, penetration with a foreign object, and false imprisonment. His bail has been set at $1.25 million.
Stewart was a registered nurse at North Shore University Hospital in Long Island. Investigators said she and Drayton had met on Tinder.
Investigators said they also believe Drayton had been using dating apps like Tinder to meet and then target various women, including the woman he allegedly kidnapped and held against her will in California. Police also said they arrested him in an unrelated rape case of a 23-year-old woman in Gowanus, Brooklyn, a few weeks earlier.
According to PIX11, New York detectives tracked Drayton across the country to the California hotel where he allegedly tied up and held a woman. "Here you have detectives flying across the country and potentially saving a life at a hotel," NYPD Chief Dermot Shea told PIX11. "This was good, old-fashioned police work and some really good detective work."
"The common denominator in these two cases — one being a murder, one being a rape — is dating websites," Shea told CBS New York. "So this individual is known to us and it is believed by us that this individual uses dating web sites to meet women and then victimize these women." Police asked any other possible victims to come forward.
Latifa Lyles, vice president of external relations at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, said that although this is a highly publicized case because Drayton is an alleged serial assaulter and it took place on both coasts, there is unfortunately nothing unusual about dating and intimate-partner violence. However, she added, this is a key opportunity to start a discussion about the issue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly a quarter of adult women, and one in seven adult men, have experienced some type of severe physical violence from an intimate partner. About one in six women has experienced some type of sexual violence from a partner, including rape. According to U.S. crime reports, about one in six murder victims are killed by an intimate partner, as are over 40% of female homicide victims. A lot of cases go underreported because the victim is afraid of the assailant, according to Lyles.
Lyles warned against telling women to stay off Tinder or otherwise change their behavior in order to stay safe. "There's nothing to tell us there's a higher rate of intimate-partner violence because of the way you meet a person," she said.
"A lot of sorrow is in my heart," Stewart's aunt, Ruby Dixon, told CBS after learning about Drayton's arrest. "My niece was the best you ever could find in a human being." She added: "Be careful. If you meet up with someone, tell somebody. Tell a family member, tell a friend. You don't know who these monsters are."