NYC Homicide Suspect Accused of Raping, Holding Woman Captive in L.A. Makes First Court Appearance

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A man arrested in connection to a bi-coastal crime spree that involved homicide, rape and holding a woman captive in her apartment pleaded not guilty to charges during his court appearance in Los Angeles County Monday.

Danueal Drayton, 27, was arraigned in a Van Nuys courtroom sometime around noon.

Drayton was supposed to be arraigned last Friday, the same day he was charged, but he missed the bus to court, officials said.

Prosecutors have charged him with attempted murder, forcible rape, false imprisonment by violence and sexual penetration by a foreign object, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Drayton faces a maximum sentence of more than 23 years to life in prison if he's found guilty. His bail has been set at $1.25 million.

Drayton of New Haven, Connecticut, was wanted in connection with the killing of a woman in Queens, New York, according to New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea; he was eventually linked to a rape that occurred several weeks earlier in Brooklyn.

Drayton was arrested last week in North Hollywood, where authorities accused him of sexually assaulting and attempting to kill another woman he was allegedly holding against her will after they went on a date, prosecutors said.

"The common denominator" in the murder and rape cases in New York "is dating websites," Shea said at a press conference last week.

"This individual is known by us and it is believed by us that this individual uses dating websites to meet women and then victimize these women," he added.

It wasn't immediately clear what dating websites or applications Drayton used in his alleged crime spree, or if he used one to meet his alleged victim in California. Shea said the suspect had used "multiple websites."

Investigators in New York have asked any other possible victims to come forward and share information.

Shea said Drayton will eventually be extradited to New York.

Separate investigations converged

Drayton came to the NYPD's attention while they were investigating the murder of 29-year-old Samantha Stewart in Queens after her body was discovered by her brother on July 17, Shea said Thursday.

"As that investigation went forward it came together with a separate, uninvolved, unrelated investigation from the 78th precinct in Brooklyn from several weeks earlier involving a rape case," Shea said.

In both cases, investigators were led to Drayton, he said, who was "tracked across the country."

Authorities say that when they located Drayton they discovered another alleged victim -- a 28-year-old woman -- being held captive.

According to a news release from the L.A. County DA's office, Drayton allegedly strangled and assaulted the woman on July 22 and 23 after he refused to let her leave her North Hollywood apartment following a date.

"Right after he commit a gruesome murder here and destroy my family, he went to California and just almost did the same thing," Samantha Stewart's father, Kenneth, told CNN affiliate WCBS.

He was arrested last Tuesday, authorities said.

"Thank God they catch him before he could destroy another family," he said.

KTLA's Jennifer Thang contributed to this story. 

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