(NEW YORK) — A man arrested in Georgia has confessed to murdering five people in South Carolina, authorities announced Tuesday.
James Douglas Drayton, 24, was taken into custody in Georgia’s Burke County on Monday morning, after he allegedly committed an armed robbery and fled the scene in a stolen vehicle that authorities said was registered to a family member of one of the victims in South Carolina’s Spartanburg County, about 145 miles away.
“He confessed to the crime,” Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said during a press conference on Tuesday. “He basically said he’d been hearing voices. Not sure what that means for him, but he knew he’d been using meth and had been up for like four days. Hadn’t slept in four days, probably not thinking.”
The murders took place over the weekend in the town of Inman at a home that Wright described as a “safe haven” for drug use. Deputies from the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office responded to a death call at the residence on Bobo Drive on Sunday evening. Upon arrival, deputies discovered four people who had been shot to death — identified as Thomas Ellis Anderson, 37, Adam Daniel Morley, 32, Mark Allen Hewitt, 59, and Roman Christean Megael Rocha, 19.
A fifth victim was found still showing signs of life and was transported to Spartanburg Medical Center, where they died. Their identity was not released because their family has not yet been notified, according to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is the largest single murder we’ve had in Spartanburg County,” Wright told reporters.
Wright said all five victims were drug users and were known to Drayton, who investigators believe had been staying at the home for about two weeks. The victims were also living there at the time of the incident and investigators located belongings with Drayton’s name, according to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.
“Wouldn’t have mattered to me if they were church members and never did any of that stuff, or they were heroin addicts. They were still somebody’s son, brother, friend, dad,” Wright said. “They are all a child of God — they didn’t deserve what they got.”
After the shootings, Drayton allegedly stole a car from the home, which he crashed during a brief, high-speed chase in Georgia, where he was apprehended and is now awaiting extradition to South Carolina. He will be charged with five counts of murder, Wright said.
Drayton gave investigators a “full confession” about the murders, providing “specific information” about the crime scene, including the location of the five victims, according to the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office.
“I don’t have answers as to why. He said some things in his interviews that I’m going to hold on to because his attorney probably needs to process some of this stuff,” Wright said. “It’s awful.”
Burke County’s online jail records did not list an attorney for Drayton.
Although the suspect was arrested, Wright said the victims “did not get justice at all.”
“Just because we have someone in custody doesn’t make things better for these families,” he added. “It just means that they don’t have to wonder.”
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