Newly released court records show that guests at the New Orleans hotel where Schuylkill County jeweler Patrick Murphy was found slain last week heard an argument coming from Murphy’s room shortly before suspect Megan Hall walked “briskly” out of the hotel.
Hall, 25, who also spells her first name Magen and Megen, was arraigned on second-degree murder charges Monday and held under $750,000 bail. Authorities had been searching for Hall since the homicide Thursday; she surrendered Sunday in New Orleans.
In Louisiana, a second-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of life in prison.
According to court records, Murphy and Hall checked into the Empress Hotel in the city’s Treme neighborhood at 2:10 a.m. Thursday. The hotel, which advertises rooms starting at $39 a night, is near the French Quarter, the central tourist district of New Orleans where thousands of visitors are celebrating Mardi Gras this week.
Other hotel guests heard a “struggle” around 3:30 a.m. that lasted about two minutes, and a female yelling “get in the bathroom,” according to court records. A short time later, Hall left.
“The female suspect was observed exiting the hotel room alone and briskly walking out the front door of the Empress Hotel,” according to an affidavit filed Monday.
Hotel employees found Murphy’s body just before noon Thursday. The New Orleans coroner’s office said he died of “sharp force injuries.”
Hall wore a maroon jail uniform and shackles in court Monday, weeping occasionally as she stood before Magistrate Commissioner Robert Blackburn, according to a report in the New Orleans Advocate.
Her attorney, John Fuller, didn’t directly address the accusations in court but promised to vigorously defend Hall.
“We look forward to airing everything out in a public forum,” he told an Advocate reporter. “There is definitely more to the story than what’s confined to the four corners of the application for an arrest warrant.”
Hall has numerous prior convictions for prostitution in Louisiana and Texas, court records show.
Murphy was the owner of the Murphy Jewelers chain — which has locations in Pottsville, Hamburg and the Promenade Shops in Upper Saucon Township — and one of the most prominent businessmen in Schuylkill County. After being closed for several days, the store at the Promenade Shops was reopened Monday.
Earlier that week, Murphy attended a jewelry convention in Arizona, The Pottsville Republican Herald reported Monday.
Ruth Tewoldemedhin, a sales administrator at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix, told the newspaper that a Patrick and Kim Murphy were registered as being there at the hotel.
“I have a Patrick Murphy who stayed here. I don’t know if she stayed here or not,” Tewoldemedhin said.
She said Patrick Murphy didn’t check in with identification because he was listed under staff, meaning he likely was there as a vendor for the Independent Jewelers Organization Conference and Buyers Show held from Feb. 23 to Feb. 26 at the hotel.
Murphy arrived at the hotel on Feb. 22 and departed on Feb. 25, Tewoldemedhin said.
Also Monday Christine Logothetides, store manager at Murphy Jewelers in Pottsville, told the Republican Herald that employees are grieving the loss of Murphy.
“We love him. He is truly missed,” Logothetides said.
Logothetides said Murphy was on vacation with his wife in New Orleans before his death. She asked the public and media to respect the family’s privacy.
“They were high school sweethearts. They lived and breathed for each other,” Logothetides told the newspaper.
The couple would have celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary in May.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.