Who Were James Bradley’s Victims? Where is James Bradley Now?

Image Credit: Port City Daily

Investigation Discovery’s ‘On The Case With Paula Zahn: No Body Two Crimes’ chronicles the vicious tale of an American serial killer named James Opelton Bradley. He was convicted of killing three women, the first one being his 8-year-old stepdaughter in June 1988 and later two other women, one of them being his colleague, between 2013 and 2014. Are you interested in learning more about James and his current whereabouts? Let’s find out.

James Bradley: A History of Violence

The first victim of James Bradley was his own stepdaughter, 8-year-old Alisa Ivy Gibson. On June 9, 1988, James reported that Alisa had been kidnapped from her bus stop in Fayetteville, North Carolina. However, officers found several inconsistencies in his statements and began to suspect his involvement in the disappearance of his stepdaughter. Under stringent questioning, James’ defense finally broke and he confessed to killing Alisa 2 days after the reported incident.

Shannon Rippy Van Newkirk//Image Credit: Port City Daily

James claimed that he was sick and sleeping when his sleep got disturbed by Alisa playing the television loudly. As per him, James snapped and killed her by wrapping a sock around her and choking her to death. When realization dawned upon him about what he had done, he allegedly tried to cover up the crime by putting Alisa’s body in a garbage bag and dumping it at the local garbage dump. On January 22, 1990, James pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was handed a life sentence.

However, since the crime occurred before the North Carolina Structured Sentencing Act was enacted, James was eligible for parole, and he was discharged after 23 years on February 11, 2013. He found a job at Steve Mott’s landscaping company and was frequently assigned to work at a Hampstead farm owned by Steve. 53-year-old Shannon Rippy Van Newkirk was a colleague of James who went missing on April 5, 2014. She was last seen alive at the Husk Bar in downtown Wilmington that day.

When Shannon failed to turn up for her 54th birthday bash on April 6, 2014, her concerned mother, Roberta Lewis, filed a missing person report with the police. Detectives began to suspect James, given his past conviction record, and found several discrepancies and lies in his statements. He claimed that he did not meet Shannon on the day of her disappearance but changed his story numerous times after being presented with evidence that contradicted his initial claim.

Elisha Tucker//Image Credit: WECT

Investigators searched for Shannon on the Hampstead farm, where they both worked together and stumbled upon a body that they initially believed belonged to her. The body was wrapped in garbage bags and buried in a shallow grave which was concealed beneath a stump. However, the medical examiner found several tattoos on the body during the autopsy and concluded that the body did not belong to Shannon. It was determined that the body was of Elisha Tucker, 33, of Wilmington, who was reported missing since August 2013.

The autopsy revealed that Elisha was bludgeoned to death. Based on DNA evidence retrieved from his vehicle, James was indicted for the first-degree murder of Elisha on December 5, 2016. The prosecution announced that they would seek the death penalty for James in that case. However, Shannon’s body was never found, despite the prosecution offering to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment if James revealed the location of her body.

James Bradley is Serving His Sentence Today

James Bradley was first tried for the alleged murder of Shannon. He declined the plea deal and went on trial, where he professed his innocence. However, the jury declined his version after being shown evidence of surveillance footage and call records that placed him with Shannon on the day of her disappearance. He was convicted of second-degree murder on June 29, 2017. He received a minimum jail term of 30 years and five months and a maximum term of 37 years and 6 months in prison.

Image Credit: WECT

James went on trial for the murder of Elisha in March 2019. The prosecution produced a witness who placed him with the victim and claimed to see them together at the farm where her body would later be found. Investigators also found Elisha’s DNA on the carpet pad of James’ Chevrolet Tahoe. On March 26, 2019, he was convicted of first-degree murder but escaped the death sentence with a deadlocked jury. Instead, he was handed a life sentence, which he continues to serve at Tabor City Correctional Institution.

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