Joycelyn Alsup (left) is one of three alleged murder victims of James Michael Wright (right), according to authorities in Virginia.
Photo: Channel 2 Action News
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

‘I hope he dies’: Marietta dad furious at carnival coworker accused of killing teen

About four years ago, Wayne Alsup met James Michael Wright at the North Georgia State Fair, where they both worked. Alsup operated the carnival games while Wright gave children pony rides.

Alsup now hopes Wright will be sentenced to death after he allegedly admitted to killing the Marietta man’s 17-year-old daughter.

“I hope he dies,” he told Channel 2 Action News on Friday. “He needs to be taken off this world. My daughter ain’t living. He shouldn’t be living.”

Wayne Alsup
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

Wright, 23, is accused of killing Alsup’s daughter, Joycelyn, in the middle of a March spree that also included the deaths of two women from Tennessee, previously reported. The teenager has the mental capacity of a child, according to her father, and he believes Wright took advantage of that.

Joycelyn’s body and the remains of one of the other victims were recovered near Wright’s home in Mendota, Va., last week, according to Washington County (Va.) Sheriff Fred Newman. 

Virginia officials said the death penalty remains a possibility in this case.

MORE: Marietta teen, 2 Tennessee women killed by traveling carnival worker, cops say

Last September, the teen and her mother met Wright at Jim R. Miller Park in Cobb County, where the fair was held. Her father said he never displayed any violent behavior.

“You would have never thought that this guy was a killer,” he told Channel 2.

Wright was an employee for Bloutville, Tenn.,-based Pony Express. While with the carnival company, he also allegedly met and killed Elizabeth Vanmeter, 22, of Carter County, Tenn., and Athena Hopson, 25, of Johnson City, Tenn. 

Newman described Wright as a “serial killer” during a Monday news conference. When Wright allegedly admitted to the murders, he said they were all accidents, which Newman said was “hard to believe.”

Joycelyn’s mother, Cynthia Butterworth, spoke to the news station Tuesday, saying, “(Wright) is unfit to even be called a monster because he is the scum of all Earth.”

RELATED: Marietta mother calls teen’s alleged carnival killer ‘scum of all Earth’

Cynthia Butterworth
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

On March 9, Wright allegedly admitted to shooting and killing the teen after they had sex in the woods near his home, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. Wright claimed that he shot her by accident when he tried to shoot an animal.

Deputies recovered her body from under some logs by a creek near his house. Her family plans to bring her remains back to Cobb.

He’s accused of killing Vanmeter on Feb. 28 after an argument and Hopson while they were on a walk March 17, Newman said. Deputies also found Vanmeter’s body, but Hopson’s body has not been recovered, since Wright allegedly put it in a river.

Athena Hopson (left), Elizabeth Vanmeter
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

Wright, who has no criminal background, faces three counts of capital murder, three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and three counts of disposing of a body, Newman said. He remains in jail in Abingdon, Va., without bond.

Investigators said they have no reason to believe there are additional victims, but the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service are assisting with the investigation. A company manager confirmed to Channel 2 that the carnival is working with investigators.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated James Michael Wright was a subcontractor for James H. Drew Exposition when he met the three alleged victims. However, that’s what Wright told investigators when he was interviewed. The sheriff’s office clarified on Facebook that Wright actually worked for Pony Express, which its owner confirmed.

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