‘The death penalty is on the table’: Remains of third victim found, positively identified in 2019 Mendota murder case


WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. (WJHL)- Authorities in Washington County, Virginia said they discovered and positively identified the remains of the third victim in a murder investigation from 2019.

The remains of Athina Hopson, 25, were found and positively identified in the Mendota area.

Hopson, who last lived in Johnson City, was reported missing March 21, 2019.

On Friday, Washington County, Virginia Sheriff Blake Andis said in part, “The Washington County Sheriff’s Office responded back to the scene of previous murders involving three victims in the Mendota area of Washington County. Detectives going on a tip went back to that area where the search was conducted and skeletal remains were found…the DNA analysis was conducted and we came up with a positive identification on Athina Huff Hopson.”

Sheriff Andis said a preliminary investigation on Hopson’s death is due to a “gunshot wound.”

The suspect in this case, James Michael Wright, of Mendota, Virginia, reportedly confessed to killing Hopson and two other women in the Mendota community.

James Michael Wright set to make second court appearance following 3 capitol murder charges
Pictured: James Michael Wright

Wright reportedly said Hopson’s body fell out of his truck while crossing a bridge over the river.

Pictured: Victims in Mendota murder investigation (Athina Hopson, Elizabeth Vanmeter, Jocelyn Alsup)

The Commonwealth’s Attorney for Washington County, Virginia was also at Friday’s briefing and discussed the charges Wright faces in this case.

“The death penalty is on the table, he is charged with three counts of capital murder, however, it is still very early to even prognosticate what the end result might be,” Josh Cumbow said.

You can watch the entire news briefing on our WJHL Facebook page below.

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