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Man indicted for alleged ‘heinous’ murder of Springfield Gardens nurse in 2018: DA

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Danuel Drayton was indicted Friday morning in Queens Supreme Court for allegedly strangling a 29-year-old nurse in her Springfield Gardens home in 2018. (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

A New Haven, Connecticut man was indicted by a Queens grand jury for the murder of a Springfield Gardens nurse in 2018 following his extradition from California.

Danuel Drayton, 31, was arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder Friday morning in an 18-count indictment charging him with murder, grand larceny, sexual misconduct and other crimes for the “shocking” strangulation death of 29-year-old Samantha Stewart in her home, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

According to the charges, Stewart met with Drayton on the dating app Tinder. The two went on a date and on July 16, 2018, the pair went to her 145th Road home in Springfield Gardens. Sometime that day, Drayton allegedly beat and strangled Stewart and then engaged in sexual conduct with her dead body.

The following day, the victim’s brother found her body wrapped in a blanket on the floor in the corner of her bedroom. Katz said the defendant allegedly took the victim’s credit cards and fled the crime scene in a white van that was found at JFK Airport a day later.

Drayton allegedly purchased a ticket to California using one of Stewart’s credit cards. He was apprehended in Los Angeles on July 24, 2018, by members of the NYPD’s Fugitive Task Force.

Drayton has an alleged history of violence against women he met online on both coasts. When he was arrested in a North Hollywood hotel room a week after Stewart’s alleged murder, he was holding another woman captive against her will. On Monday, Drayton pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and sexual assault in that case and then he was extradited back to New York on Thursday where he was booked for Stewart’s murder at the 105th Precinct in Queens Village.

“This family deserves justice. This was a brutal crime that makes every person using a dating app fearful,” Katz said. “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 his heinous act of violence, the defendant fled the state to escape prosecution. Now back in our custody, this defendant will be held to account for his alleged actions.”

Justice Holder set the defendant’s return for May 23. Drayton faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

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