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Man accused of killing Queens nurse he met on dating app four years ago extradited from California

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A Connecticut man accused of killing a Queens nurse he met on a dating app in 2018 has finally been extradited to New York from California to face murder charges in her death. 

Danueal Drayton, 31, of New Haven was arraigned on Friday in a Queens court on murder, sexual misconduct, identity theft and grand larceny charges in the July 17, 2018 murder of 29-year-old Samantha Stewart, whom he allegedly killed after meeting her on Tinder. 

He was pictured in court in a blue sweater and short, bleached dreadlocks. 

Police believe Drayton met Stewart on Tinder just days after a judge freed him without bail on charges of assaulting and choking his ex-girlfriend Zynea Barney on June 30, 2018, in a Long Island park. 

He was ordered held on $2,000 bail, but on July 5, Nassau County officials let him go despite the fact that between 2011 and February 2018, Drayton was arrested five times in his home state of Connecticut – including on a second-degree strangulation charge. 

Two weeks after Nassau County officials freed him, Stewart’s body was found wrapped in blankets on the floor of her bedroom in Queens, and it appeared she had been strangled and some of her teeth had been knocked out, police said.  

If convicted for the 2018 slaying, Drayton faces 25 years to life in prison. 

On Friday Danueal Drayton, 31, of New Haven, Connecticut, was arraigned in a Queens court on murder, sexual misconduct, identity theft and grand larceny charges

On Friday Danueal Drayton, 31, of New Haven, Connecticut, was arraigned in a Queens court on murder, sexual misconduct, identity theft and grand larceny charges

Drayton was pictured in court in a blue sweater, and short, bleached dreadlocks

Drayton was pictured in court in a blue sweater, and short, bleached dreadlocks

Drayton has remained behind bars in Los Angeles since 2018 on kidnapping charges as he awaited extradition to New York to face murder charges for Stewart's death

Drayton has remained behind bars in Los Angeles since 2018 on kidnapping charges as he awaited extradition to New York to face murder charges for Stewart’s death

Drayton's arraignment comes after he was arrested four years ago in Los Angeles and charged with kidnapping

Drayton’s arraignment comes after he was arrested four years ago in Los Angeles and charged with kidnapping 

Danueal Drayton was freed without bail in 2018 despite his lengthy rap sheet. He is pictured in an undated photo from NYPD

Danueal Drayton was freed without bail in 2018 despite his lengthy rap sheet. He is pictured in an undated photo from NYPD

His arraignment comes after his arrest four years ago, on July 24, 2018, when police tracked him down to a Los Angeles residence where a third woman was found tied up and was said to be held against her will. 

He was charged with her kidnapping and remained behind bars in Los Angeles as he awaited extradition to New York to face murder charges for Stewart’s death. 

‘It would have been impossible for the judge at that time to foresee the allegations that are presently unfolding,’ a Nassau court spokesperson told ABC 7 in 2018. 

‘This monster gets out and has the nerve to fly to L.A. to commit another crime, to destroy another family,’ raged Kenneth Stewart, the father of Stewart.

Her brother found her body and called their father, who then called police, authorities said.

Police connected Drayton to the slaying via Tinder and were also able to connect him to a June 17, 2018 rape of a 23-year-old woman in Brooklyn using facial recognition technology.

The rape victim said she also met Drayton through Tinder. 

Stewart's body was found wrapped in blankets on the floor of her bedroom in Queens

Queens nurse Samantha Stewart was allegedly killed by Drayton after meeting her on Tinder

Queens nurse Samantha Stewart (left and right) was found dead in her apartment on July 17, 2018 

Drayton was arrested four years ago when police tracked him down to a Los Angeles residence where a woman was been tied up and was said to be held against her will

Drayton was arrested four years ago when police tracked him down to a Los Angeles residence where a woman was been tied up and was said to be held against her will

Drayton was arrested in 2018 after Stewart's body was discovered in her home in the Springfield Gardens neighborhood of Queens (pictured)

Drayton was arrested in 2018 after Stewart’s body was discovered in her home in the Springfield Gardens neighborhood of Queens (pictured) 

Police said after allegedly killing her, Drayton used Stewart’s credit card to buy a plane ticket to California where police eventually found and apprehended him a week later on July 24, 2018. 

In a jailhouse interview shortly after his arrest,  Drayton claimed he suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar II disorder.

‘It’s mind control,’ Drayton explained at the time. ‘They use direct-energy weapons on me to control my mind.’

He said he could recall choking his ex-girlfriend Barney, but he couldn’t remember meeting a 23-year-old woman who police say he raped in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

‘That’s the Black Island,’ he said, describing his alleged fugue states. ‘They make it so I can’t remember.’  

On his arrest, law enforcement sources said Drayton not only confessed to murdering Stewart but also boasted about killing six other women. 

He claims to have killed two in Connecticut, and slain women in the Bronx and Suffolk County on Long Island, as well as another murder in Queens or Nassau County. 

Zynea Barney (pictured) dated Drayton for about six months, before she says he tried to strangle her in a Long Island park when she tried to break up with him

Zynea Barney (pictured) dated Drayton for about six months, before she says he tried to strangle her in a Long Island park when she tried to break up with him

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Drayton’s ex-girlfriend Barney said that their relationship began well but turned sour as he became increasingly possessive and controlling, culminating in him slashing her tires and trying to strangle her in a park near her home in Inwood, New York.

After he told her to drive to a park and Barney told him there was no chance of them getting back together, Drayton allegedly lunged at her and started to strangle her.

‘He was choking me, saying ‘F***ing b***h, I’m going to kill you, I’m going to kill you, I’m going to kill you. No, no. I told you, it’s just me and you,”’ she said.

Barney said she was only saved when three passing factory workers noticed the struggle and rushed over to help.  

Barney said any of Drayton’s claims that he hears voices and is a ‘passenger in his own body’ are all fake and part of a plot to not take full accountability for his crimes. 

‘He’s very, very, very smart. I just hope the judge sees the game he’s trying to pull over their eyes. He’s very smart.’ 

‘When he told me this, I didn’t pay attention because I didn’t know anything about his previous arrest record,’ Barney said. 

‘When I hear it now, I’m thinking, wow, he’s doing exactly as he planned. He wants the judge to eat right from his hands and let (Drayton) claim insanity so he won’t be with the regular (prison) population.’ 

Timeline of Drayton’s alleged crimes

June 17, 2018: Police say Drayton allegedly raped a 23-year-old woman in Brooklyn 

June 30, 2018: Drayton allegedly assaulted and choked his ex-girlfriend Zynea Barney in a Long Island park 

July 5, 2018: Drayton was ordered held on $2,000 bail for assaulting his ex-girlfriend but Nassau County officials let him go

July 17, 2018: Drayton allegedly murders 29-year-old Samantha Stewart after meeting her on Tinder

July 24, 2018: Police tracked Drayton down to a Los Angeles residence where a third woman was found tied up and was said to be held against her will  

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