Cobb County

Carnival worker accused of killing Cobb Co. girl linked to 2 other murders

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Authorities in Virginia say the same man accused of killing a teenage girl from Cobb County is also linked to the murders of two missing women.

Investigators announced Monday that 23-year-old James Michael Wright is charged with three counts of capital murder. He's accused of fatally shooting the three victims in February and March.

Investigators said Wright, a traveling carnival worker, confessed to the shootings. The victims were identified as 25-year-old Athina Hopson, from Johnson City, Tennessee; 22-year-old Elizabeth Marie Vanmeter, from Carter County, Tennessee; and 17-year-old Joycelyn M. Alsup, from Cobb County.

Alsup's mother said her daughter met Wright at the North Georgia State Fair in September.

"He is unfit to even be called a monster because he is the scum of all earth," Cynthia Butterworth said.

The mother’s pain has turned into anger directed at Wright.

“We have been looking for her. We had everybody out. And come to find out she’s been gone this whole time,” Butterworth said.


Butterworth said she reported Alsup missing March 8. Virginia deputies believe Wright killed her the next day.

Butterworth said the teen’s father worked with Wright.

“He was the pony guy. That’s what we called him: The pony dude,” Butterworth said.

In a news conference Monday, the sheriff in Washington County, Virginia called the traveling carnival worker a “serial killer” who made a confession that he “accidentally shot the victims.”

The sheriff said Wright met all three victims while working as a subcontractor for James H. Drew exposition.

The company in charge of the carnival at the North Georgia State Fair. They don’t believe there are additional victims, but the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it's assisting with the investigation.

“I see someone who should not be on Earth. My heart is so full of hate for him and for what he has done,” Butterworth said.

The company in charge of the carnival at the state fair assured Channel 2 Action News families are safe and the company is helping Virginia investigators.