A Martha’s Vineyard man who was found murdered at a Florida hotel apparently spent time with his alleged killer in the hours leading up to his death, records show.
Charlie Morgan, 59, of West Tisbury, checked into the Rodeway Inn and Suites in Dania Beach, Fla., on the night of Aug. 1. The following afternoon, he was found dead on the bathroom floor inside his guest room at the hotel with “various wounds” and “multiple lacerations,” authorities said.
On Aug. 5 the Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested Alphonso Washington, 59, at the Rodeway Inn and Suites and charged him with one count of murder and one count of violating his probation.
Washington had been staying at the hotel for several months, according to the sheriff’s office.
“He was homeless... and was put up in the hotel through a program the city of Fort Lauderdale funded to place homeless people in hotels to combat COVID,” said Carey Codd, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that the two men somehow became acquainted and were seen hanging out together at the hotel.
“My husband is so friendly and such a regular guy, and we live in a community where you say hello to somebody and they say hello back,” Morgan’s widow, Jackie, told the Sun Sentinel. “They befriended each other.”
Nicole Cabot, a friend of Morgan’s widow, said Morgan had traveled to Florida to visit his father, whom he hadn’t seen since the coronavirus pandemic began.
She said Morgan was “an accomplished builder” who was devoted to his family. “He was just an all-around great island guy,” she said.
Morgan probably didn’t know it at the time, but when he started talking to Washington, he was befriending a convicted killer.
Washington has a lengthy criminal history that includes charges of robbery, drug offenses, and homicide. (In 1985, Washington was charged in the death of a woman whose naked body was found outside of an elementary school in Florida. Records show that he was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to serve up to 17 years, but ended up getting released in 1991.)
A housekeeper told police she saw Washington and Morgan outside of Morgan’s hotel room at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 2, according to a complaint affidavit filed in Broward County 17th Judicial Circuit court, a copy of which was obtained by the Globe.
Surveillance footage showed Washington approaching Morgan’s room at 10:08 a.m., and Washington appeared to be arguing with Morgan, who was sitting outside of his room on a chair. The footage then skips ahead to 10:11 a.m., and “during this time, it is believed that both the victim and suspect enter the room,” the complaint affidavit states.
About five minutes later, Washington exits the room and sits on the chair that was left outside of the room. Washington then paces back and forth in front of the room for 43 minutes, and then enters Morgan’s room at 10:56 a.m., according to the complaint affidavit.
A housekeeper later told police that around 11 a.m. she heard the voices of two people arguing inside Morgan’s room as she was walking by. She said she believed one of the voices sounded like Washington.
The footage shows that at 12:22 p.m., Washington came out of Morgan’s room wearing shorts and no shirt, and carrying a blue bag.
When interviewed by police, Washington confirmed that he was with Morgan from the time Morgan arrived until about 11 a.m. or 12 p.m. on the day of the murder. “Washington confirmed that he was in the victim’s room and was even embraced by the victim, which he referred to as being hugged by the victim,” the complaint affidavit states.
But Washington told police he did not kill Morgan.
“Washington denied having any involvement in the victim’s death,” the complaint affidavit states.
Meanwhile, Morgan’s family and friends are grieving and left questioning how something like this could happen.
“The fact that just bad luck and circumstance ended in tragedy, it’s just beyond us,” said Cabot.
As of Friday evening, a GoFundMe page that was set up for Morgan’s family had raised over $11,000.
Correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed to this report.