A Martha’s Vineyard man was killed at a hotel near Fort Lauderdale, Fla. while visiting his father this month, and a man has been charged with his murder, according to Florida authorities and a family friend.
On Aug. 2 around 3:30 p.m., the Broward sheriff’s office received a report that a man had been found on the bathroom floor inside a guest room at the Rodeway Inn and Suites in Dania Beach, the agency said in a statement last week.
Sheriff’s deputies and Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue personnel arrived to find a man who had suffered multiple wounds, the sheriff’s office said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
On Aug. 5 authorities arrested Alphonso Washington, 59, of Dania Beach, at the Rodeway Inn and Suites and charged him with one count of murder and one count of violating his probation, the sheriff’s office said.
Broward County authorities did not identify the victim, citing a state law that protects the privacy of crime victims.
He was identified as Charles Morgan, 59, of West Tisbury, by Nicole Cabot, a friend of Morgan’s widow who has set up a GoFundMe page for the family.
As of Thursday evening, the page had raised more than $9,600, with a goal of $20,000.
“They’re not wealthy,” Cabot said of Morgan’s family in a phone interview Thursday night. “People think of Martha’s Vineyard people as wealthy people. … These are working-class people.”
Cabot said Morgan was “an accomplished builder” who had constructed his family’s own home and had helped frame an addition on the Cabot family home.
“He was just an all-around great island guy,” she said. “The fact that just bad luck and circumstance ended in tragedy, it’s just beyond us.”
She described Morgan as a devoted husband and father.
“He was very much in love with Jackie,” Cabot said. “He absolutely adored his daughter. He was a real family guy, helping out with everything.”
Cabot said Morgan’s widow, Jackie Flynn-Morgan, plans to travel to Florida to see Washington in court.
“She feels very strongly that she should be there,” Cabot said.
The couple has one daughter, Mary, 19, who was planning to begin her sophomore year of college this fall, Cabot said.
Flynn-Morgan did not respond to a phone message Thursday evening.
Earlier this week, Flynn-Morgan told the Vineyard Gazette she had been married to her husband, who was known as Charlie, for 22 years and was in shock over his death.
“I am beyond belief,” Flynn-Morgan told the Gazette. “We are just overwhelmed. We really can’t believe it.”
Cabot said Morgan had traveled to Florida to visit his father, whom he hadn’t seen since the coronavirus pandemic began.
He wound up at the Rodeway Inn and Suites near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport when he asked a taxi driver to take to him to a hotel because he had missed a flight and wanted to rest, she said.
“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it’s just terrible,” she said. “Now we have a woman who’s a widow, and a child who lost her father, and a community grieving. And none of this had to happen.”
She does not know how Morgan met his killer, but she said he was the kind of person who “would say ‘Hi’ to anybody.”
Cabot said the “tiny community” of West Tisbury has been rocked by Morgan’s death.
“We’re all just incredulous,” she said. “We can’t quite grasp that this happened.”
Because of the pandemic, friends and community members have been unable to gather to mourn. Cabot has not even been able to see Flynn-Morgan in person since her husband’s death, she said.
“It’s terrible,” Cabot said. “All you want to do is give her a hug, and you can’t.”