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Sheriff: Man who killed 5 was high, hadn't slept for 4 days

Nick Youngson
Alpha Stock Images

A man using drugs who hadn't slept in days shot and killed five people in a South Carolina home where people gathered to get high, a sheriff said Tuesday.

James Douglas Drayton, 24, was arrested on Monday in Burke County, Georgia, after crashing during a police chase, said Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright at a news conference. Drayton was driving a car taken from the home where the shooting took place in the city of Inman, the sheriff said.

Burke County deputies said they chased Drayton after he tried to rob a convenience store at gunpoint and kidnap an employee. It's about 145 miles (233 kilometers) between the house in Inman and the gas station.

Wright said Drayton confessed to the killings, telling police that he was high on methamphetamine, hadn't slept for four days and handed over the gun he said he used to kill everyone in the home where he was also staying.

"I don't have answers as to why. He said some things in his interviews that I'm going to hold on to because his attorney probably needs to process some of this stuff," Wright said. "It's awful."

Drayton is being held in the Burke County jail awaiting extradition. He will be charged with five counts of murder, authorities said. Records did not list an attorney.

The killings happened Sunday at a home where people frequently went to use drugs, Wright said.

But the sheriff said the fact that the victims were using drugs doesn't mean he will treat the killings any differently.

"Wouldn't have mattered to me if they were church members and never did any of that stuff, or they were heroin addicts. They were still somebody's son, brother, friend, dad," Wright said. "They are all a child of God — they didn't deserve what they got."

The shootings apparently happened Sunday morning, but deputies were not called for about 10 hours, authorities said.

Four of the victims have been identified. They are Thomas Ellis Anderson, 37; Adam Daniel Morley, 32; Mark Allen Hewitt, 59; and Roman Christean Megael Rocha, 19 , according to the Spartanburg County Coroner's Office.

The family of the fifth victim has not been notified yet, the office said.

Wright said this s the largest number of people he can remember killed in one episode in Spartanburg County. Four people were shot to death at the Superbike motorcycle shop in November 2003 by a man who went on to plead guilty to seven murders over a decade.