Friend of Bluffton woman charged with her murder

Alexis Lukaitis
Alexis Lukaitis
Drayton (Source: CCSO)
Drayton (Source: CCSO)

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - By Harve Jacobs  bio | email | Twitter

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Authorities are putting all the pieces in place in the murder of 27-year-old Alexis Lukaitis.

Officials with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office Thursday identified Darold L. Drayton, 32, as the suspect in Lukaitis' murder. Major John Clark says Drayton is already in custody in Beaufort County on an unrelated charge and will be served an arrest warrant for the murder there.

Drayton was convicted in 2005 of committing a lewd act on a child and ended his probation in 2008. According to the State Law Enforcement Divisions Sex Offender Registry website, Drayton has 10 aliases.

Drayton's rap sheet is extensive with convictions for forgery, drug possession and manufacturing drugs, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, and a few armed robberies.

Drayton told Beaufort County authorities he was a friend and former neighbor of Lukaitis when he was arrested. Deputies found cuts and scratches on Drayton's chest, arms and hands. Drayton said he and Lukaitis went to Charleston to pick up prescirption pills. He said he would occasionally provide the victim with pills.

According to the affidavit, Drayton's cousin found a spare tire and other items covered in blood in his back yard in Bluffton after Drayton showed up early Monday morning. At the same time, Lukaitis' body was being found on Old Jacksonboro Road in Charleston County.

Charleston County deputies headed to Beaufort late Thursday afternoon to interview Drayton.

Lukaitis had been reported missing Monday by her fiance, Michael Bartley, 32, after he became concerned that she never returned home from an expectedly short trip to Charleston. The search for the missing woman ended Wednesday when officials from the coroner's office confirmed the identity of a woman's body found on a rural Charleston County roadside.

Bartley told deputies that his fiance left Bluffton Sunday afternoon to take a friend to Charleston. He talked to her shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday when she said she would be back in Bluffton by 9 p.m.

Twenty-four hours later, Lukaitis had yet to return and she was no longer returning phone calls. Bartley then called the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office to report her as missing.

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said Wednesday that Lukaitis died of knife wounds.

Copyright 2010 WCSC.  All rights reserved.