VENICE — Sarasota Sheriff Kurt Hoffman says it’s one of the most egregious crimes he’s seen in years.
Investigators say a woman working at a hotel in Venice was murdered by a man who had been staying there.
Stephen Havrilka has a long criminal history. He has 34 felonies, 19 convictions and four separate prison sentences.
Now, he is facing a second-degree murder charge after the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says he killed a housekeeper at a Rodeway Inn.
Investigators say Havrilka had been staying at the hotel but did not know the victim.
The sheriff’s office says the woman’s husband tried to call her yesterday but when he didn’t get an answer he found her battered and unconscious inside one of the rooms.
They say she was in a closet with a towel stuffed in her mouth.
“I can’t imagine what the victim’s husband had to do to try and perform CPR and see his wife in the condition she was in. As a spouse, it’s your worst nightmare," said Sheriff Hoffman.
She died late Tuesday night at the hospital. The sheriff says race does not appear to be an issue in the murder.
Deputies found Havrilka two miles away acting erratic and speaking in tongues. They say he was under the influence and it took five deputies to get him into custody.
“There’s no other way to describe Mr. Havrilka, but he is an animal. He also has tattoos that depict certain symbols of white supremacy and his Neo-Nazi alliances," said Sheriff Hoffman.