Homeless Man Staying In Hotel For Free Due to Coronavirus Charged With Murdering Father

A homeless man staying in a Florida hotel for free as part of an effort to help people get off the streets during the coronavirus pandemic has been charged with murdering a father who had stopped there while traveling to visit relatives.

Charles Morgan had been on his way to visit his brother and father in West Palm Beach, Florida when bad weather forced him to check into the Rodeway Inn & Suites in Dania Beach at around 9 p.m. on August 1, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.

The following afternoon, Morgan, of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, was found dead in a bathroom in Room 3104 at the hotel, the Broward Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

Alphonso Washington, 59, was identified by investigators as the suspect in the case. He was taken into custody at the hotel on the morning of August 5 and charged with murder and parole violation.

Alphonso Washington
Alphonso Washington has been charged with murdering a Massachusetts man in a Florida hotel room. Broward Sheriff's Office

The sheriff's office didn't identify Morgan, citing restrictions under Marsy's Law, but said the man had been found with multiple lacerations on his body and pronounced dead at the scene.

The Sun Sentinel reported that Morgan was stabbed and his throat had been stomped on.

According to the newspaper, Washington is a convicted killer who had been staying at the hotel for two months as part of an effort to help homeless people during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In May, Fort Lauderdale created a voucher program that provided eligible homeless people with shelter to keep them off the streets and limit the spread of coronavirus.

The Miami New Times reported that the funds were initially provided by the city, then reimbursed using money provided under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. But funding for the program ran out last month.

Washington was among 38 people who were able to continue staying at the hotel after a coalition of organizations, including New Florida Majority, a group which works to increase the voting and political power of marginalized and excluded constituencies, agreed to pay for their rooms.

In a statement to Newsweek, New Florida Majority said Morgan's death "shocked and devastated all of us, including the organizers who have put their heart and soul into trying to provide care and resources for the most vulnerable members of our community who have been all but forgotten about in the middle of the worst public health emergency in a century."

The group added that the coalition notified individuals that funding had lapsed and they would need to leave the Rodeway Inn on August 6.

"At no point did any guest of the motel know about changes to their housing situation prior to then," their statement added. "Additionally, we were always clear with residents that the motel stays were not sustainable long term, that we had limited funds to contribute, and that we would continue to advocate for the government to step in and provide safe housing during the global pandemic."

On the day Morgan was killed, Washington had been seen following Morgan around, according to an arrest report.

The Sun Sentinel reported that surveillance footage captured Washington and Morgan arguing outside Morgan's hotel room that morning. Police believe the pair entered the room together and a housekeeper who walked past at around 11 a.m. overheard a dispute and recognized one of the voices as Washington's.

The footage shows Washington left the room at around 12:30 p.m. carrying a bag.

His roommate at the hotel told police that Washington washed his clothes in the sink before leaving the room with an iPad the roommate had never seen before, according to the newspaper.

Online records show Washington is being held in the Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale. He has a lengthy criminal history, the Sun Sentinel reported, and was convicted of killing a woman in 1985.

The Broward Sheriff's Office has been contacted for additional comment.

This article has been updated with a statement from New Florida Majority.

Stock
Stock photo. A homeless man staying in a hotel in Florida for free amid the coronavirus pandemic has been charged with murdering a father. Getty