We’re learning new details in the murder of well-known Pottsville businessman Patrick Murphy. He died Thursday morning in New Orleans, the victim of an apparent “homicide by cutting”.
Murphy, the owner of two jewelry stores in the area — downtown Pottsville and Tilden Township, Berks County — was 62.
Patrick Murphy Murder Update
At this time, New Orleans police continue searching for the woman they believe is Murphy’s killer.
Her name is Megan Hall. She’s a 25-year-old woman from New Orleans.
UPDATE: Hall turned herself in to New Orleans police on Sunday morning, March 3. She was accompanied by an attorney. Full Story and Timeline of Murder
According to The New Orleans Advocate, Hall is wanted on second-degree murder charges. That carries a mandatory life sentence in Louisiana.
Also, the Advocate’s Matt Sledge reports Hall essentially spent her entire adult life as a prostitute. There is an arrest record dating back to 2011 in Tennessee. In 2012, she was brought in on her first prostitution charges. Her record follows a path from Tennessee to Texas and eventually, New Orleans.
Hall reportedly used to advertise her services on Backpage. That site was seized by federal authorities in 2018 after it was accused of being a means of promoting prostitution and sex trafficking.
On Friday, the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office confirmed that Patrick Murphy was the victim of a “homicide by cutting”. The murder occurred at the Empress Hotel, 1317 Ursulines Avenue, in New Orleans.
Murder Scene: Empress Hotel
The hotel is located in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, not far from the famed French Quarter. The city is currently in Mardi Gras mode. Murphy was reportedly in New Orleans with his wife.
While it’s a festive time, it’s also a dangerous time.
And the Empress Hotel has a seedy reputation, at best. It was actually once featured on The Travel Channel series “Hotel: Impossible”. Reviewers on Yelp.com note that the Empress Hotel, while affordable, has distinct features
- No doorknobs
- Guests must leave key at desk when they leave the hotel
- Mattresses wrapped in plastic
One guest says in their review that they left their room, dropping off their key, and came back to find a crack pipe in their bed.
“DON’T STAY HERE! EVER! I’M GIVING YOU FAIR WARNING!” writes another reviewer.
Murphy and Hall reportedly entered the Empress Hotel at about 2 a.m. New Orleans time (3 a.m. in Pottsville). Hall reserved the room but Murphy paid for it, according to the reports from New Orleans.
According to an interview recorded by NOLA.com, Empress Hotel owner/lessee James Brooks says Murphy and Hall initially went into the hotel but then left right away. Brooks said “yes” when a reporter asked him if there was a “negotiation” outside before they re-entered and rented the room.
Hall used a Tennessee ID to check-in at the Empress Hotel.
Then, Murphy and Hall walked down to their room. At some point, the two walked out to the front balcony to smoke a cigarette. They then walked back to their room together.
He says video then shows Hall leaving alone, just before 4 a.m. in New Orleans (5 a.m. in Pottsville).
Guests, not thrown off by the noise they heard, report hearing a “tussling” from Murphy’s room.
Brooks says “It’s a tragic situation,” but it also sounds like it’s not his first time dealing with New Orleans police. He thinks the cameras installed on the premises captured high quality images of her that will lead to her arrest.
“It’s really sad that this has happened. Anything the public can do to find her as soon as possible and support the NOPD and the suffering family …,” Brooks says.
At the end of the series, Brooks is one of two sons of the original owner of the Empress who wanted to turn around the reputation of the hotel. Recent reviews suggest it hasn’t worked.
Back home, residents are shell shocked by the news and continue to express their disbelief. WBRE-TV first confirmed the news and by the end of the 11 p.m. WNEP-TV broadcast, anchor Scott Schaffer delivered the news but was clearly shaken by it.