2009 Hall of Shame: Lewis Drayton

By James Quiggle
December 30, 2009
In a misplaced show of family togetherness, the Miami man burned his grandmother alive by torching his family’s home for an insurance payout.

Virginia Howard was a devout woman and family matriarch who played piano for her church. The family home mysteriously went down in flames, killing Howard with burns over 70 percent of her body.

Investigators quickly suspected Drayton, largely because his excuses and alibis seemed hopelessly muddled. First he blamed his uncle for setting the fire. Except that his uncle was in prison at the time.

Drayton finally confessed when investigators found his gas-soaked clothing. His remarkable explanation: His family members who owned the house were having financial problems. If he burned down their house, the money from their homeowner policy would help ease their problems.

Drayton also claimed he didn’t realize Virginia was inside the home when he lit the fire. That didn’t wash with investigators. Drayton had just visited Virginia and her car was parked out front. Another motive: she’d died for a whopping $8,000 in life insurance money he stood to collect, prosecutors contended.

His family members weren’t charged, but Drayton was slapped with life in prison.


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