Mother of Mendota murder victim Athina Hopson speaks out

Local

A grieving mother wants to know why her daughter became the victim of an alleged serial killer in the Tri-Cities.

Authorities in Washington County, Virginia are still searching for the body of 25-year-old Athina Hopson who last lived in Johnson City. Hopson was reported missing on March 21st.

Hopson is one of three women Washington County, Virginia Sheriff Fred Newman says was allegedly killed by 23-year-old James Michael Wright of Mendota, Virginia.

At her home in Oklahoma, Bonnie Griffith said she’s still coming to terms with the call that came on Saturday, where authorities informed her that James Michael Wright shot and killed her daughter.

“Why? What was going through this man’s head,” Bonnie Griffith said. “Why would he do this to these girls that are innocent and probably trusted him?”

Griffith said her daughter was desperate for money and in Mid-March Athina took a job cleaning the house James Wright lived in.

“The suspect stated he shot Hopson, and was transporting the victim in the back of his truck when her body fell out of the truck and rolled down an embankment near the bridge on Nordyke Road,” said Washington County Virginia Sheriff Fred Newman.

On March 19th, Newman said investigators found Hopson’s cell phone in Wright’s truck, when he hit a school bus on the very same road.

The sheriff says Wright told  investigators he didn’t mean kill the three girls.

Griffith says she is in disbelief.

“He is saying that it was probably an accident,” Giffith said. “How do you shoot somebody twice, put them in a truck, drop them in a back of a truck and put them in a river. How do you do that?”

Wright is held without bond in the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Abingdon.

The Commonwealth Attorney said if Wright is convicted, he could be facing the death penalty.

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