A suspect in the 2018 strangulation killing of a Queens nurse he met on a dating website has been indicted on murder and sexual misconduct charges after his extradition from Los Angeles, the Queens district attorney said Friday.
Danueal Drayton, 31, formerly of New Haven, Connecticut, was arraigned Friday in Queens Supreme Court on an 18-count indictment charging him with second-degree murder, grand larceny, petit larceny, sexual misconduct, identity theft, unlawful possession of personal identification information and criminal possession of stolen property, prosecutors said.
Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth C. Holder ordered Drayton held in jail without bail. If convicted, Drayton faces up to 25 years-to-life in prison.
Victim Samantha Stewart, 29, worked at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset at the time of her death.
“This family deserves justice," Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. "This was a brutal crime that makes every person using a dating app fearful. The victim was duped into going out on a date with the defendant, who played a charmer online but was in fact an alleged sexual predator. The defendant is accused of brutally beating and then killing this innocent woman in her own home. After this heinous act of violence, the defendant fled the state to escape prosecution.”
A defense attorney for Drayton could not immediately be reached for comment.
Stewart and Drayton went on a date on July 16, 2018, after meeting on the dating app Tinder, according to the indictment.
At her home on 145th Road in Springfield Gardens, Queens, Drayton allegedly beat and strangled the nurse and then engaged in sexual conduct with her dead body, according to the district attorney's office.
The victim’s brother found her body wrapped in a blanket left on the floor in the corner of her bedroom the next day.
According to the district attorney's office, Drayton allegedly took the nurse's credit cards and bought a plane ticket to California using one of the credit cards. He then fled the crime scene in a white van that was found at Kennedy Airport a day later, prosecutors said.
When the NYPD’s Fugitive Task Force apprehended him in Los Angeles for Stewart's death on July 24, 2018, he allegedly had another woman held captive, authorities have said.
Los Angeles prosecutors charged Drayton with attempted murder and forcible rape in connection with allegations that "Drayton allegedly strangled and sexually assaulted the 28-year-old victim and refused to let her leave her apartment after a date." That woman was freed when officers arrested him, police have said.
A month before he allegedly killed Stewart, Drayton had been arrested in Nassau on charges that he strangled his ex-girlfriend. He was released from jail in that case on July 5 — 11 days before Stewart was killed.