Who Is James Michael Wright? New Details On The Carnival Worker And Serial Killer Who Killed Three Women

A carnival worker is in jail on suspicion of three murders. Is he a serial killer?

Who Is James Michael Wright? New Details On The Carnival Worker And Serial Killer Who Killed Three Women Instagram

James Michael Wright is being held without bail in the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail after he told police that he has killed three women during an eight week period this spring. The carnival worker claims all the deaths were accidental but police are charging him with murders in all three of the cases. Washington County Virginia Sheriff Fred Newman told reporters at a press conference that Wright was arrested after police in three different states all focused their attention on Wright after the third woman went missing in March. They were able to question him while he was hospitalized following a car accident. Now authorities wonder if there are other victims in locations where Wright had traveled through his job with James H. Drew Exposition, a carnival company that travels up and down the East Coast. Who is James Wright and is he a serial killer? Read on for the shocking details.


1. Who is James Michael Wright?

James Wright is a 23-year-old man who called Mendota, Virginia home, the Washington Post reports. He works as a subcontractor for a carnival company, traveling around the east coast. Authorities don’t know exactly how long he was on the job but it afforded him the opportunity to meet all three of his victims. One of them was the daughter of another carnival employee and police are still working out how he met the others. He killed all three of them in a short time this winter and spring, but his killing spree came to an end when he got in a car accident that landed him in the hospital with multiple injuries. While he was recovering, police connected him to the missing women, searched his property, and found their bodies. He ultimately confessed though he tried to say all three deaths were accidental. Authorities say they believe he meets the definition of a serial killer.


Neighbors are now frightened of Wright.

2. Elizabeth Vanmeter

Elizabeth Vanmeter was last seen at her home in Tennessee on February 28. On that date, Wright says she was with him and they argued. He claims that the shooting was accidental and he then buried her near his home in Virginia. Vanmeter was reported missing by her parents on March 17th. Vanmeter, though 22-years-old, was said to be cognitively disabled and had the mental capacity of a 13-year-old. He never got in touch with her family after her death.


Vanmeter was cognitively disabled. 

3. Joslyn Alsup

Alsup was 17-years-old and her father worked for the same carnival company as Wright. Her father reported her missing on March 9th. Wright admits to having sex with her on March 8th, in the woods near his house. He claims that afterward, he tried to shoot an animal in the woods and shot her to death by mistake. He then covered her body and left it there, never contacting her father despite the two of them working together.


Alsup met Wright at the carnival where he worked.

4. Athina Hopson

It’s unclear how Wright and Hopson, who was 25, met, but family members report that he was paying her to clean his house. On March 17th, he picked her up to take her to his house to do her cleaning job but she never returned home. Her cousin filed a missing person report on March 21st. Wright claimed he didn’t know her whereabouts but later would confess that the two of them were out for a walk when he tripped and shot her accidentally. He claimed he was going to take her body to a hospital but it fell out of his truck over a river. So far police have been unable to recover her remains.


Hopson's body has not been found.

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5. Accidents?

The idea that one man could accidentally shoot and kill three people in such a short window of time and not report any of the incidents defies belief. Even authorities expressed public skepticism about his excuses. Sheriff Newman told reporters, "Although he stated they were accidental we find that hard to believe based on the information that we have.”

Wright tried to pass the murders off as accidents.


6. Possible additional crimes

Because of the nature of Wright’s job, police can’t rule out the possibility that he killed other people in other locations. Authorities are working with the carnival company to try and trace where Wright has been in recent months and check their databases of missing persons. “We’re working with that carnival to make a determination of the locations they did set up the carnival and attempt to see if there are missing persons that might have been reported,” said Newman, according to the Washington Post.

Police are calling Wright a serial killer.


At this time, Wright is being held without bond at a jail in Virginia. Washington County Commonwealth Attorney Joshua Cumbow said it is possible his office will seek the death penalty.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.