Megan Hall appeared in a New Orleans criminal court Monday morning.
She’s the woman accused of killing Pottsville businessman Patrick Murphy in the early morning hours of Feb. 28. The murder occurred at the Empress Hotel, within walking distance of the French Quarter.
Hall faces second-degree murder charges and possibly life in prison. A judge set bail at $750,000. It’s not known if that was posted, according to the latest from NOLA.com.
Argument Heard in Murphy’s Room
Along with Hall appearing in court today, New Orleans police released more details into their investigation.
And after reading all of it, we’re left to wonder: What really happened in that hotel room?
Here’s what we learned today:
- Two guests staying at Empress Hotel Feb. 28 say they heard a “loud argument” and commotion coming from Murphy’s room.
- At about 3:30 a.m. CST (4:30 in Pottsville), one guest says they heard a woman’s voice yell, “GET IN THE BATHROOM!”
- The commotion lasted all of a few minutes.
- New Orleans detective Patrick Guidry says surveillance footage then shows Hall “briskly” walking out of Empress Hotel at 3:42 a.m.
Guidry says in his affidavit that no one else is seen leaving Empress Hotel until staff there discover Murphy’s body shortly before noon that day. Police seem to indicate Hall is the only person of interest in this case.
Here’s a look at what a bathroom in the Empress offers guests. It’s not a pretty picture. It’s tough to think of someone you may know ending up there as Murphy did.
What We Don’t Know
Hall getting booked on charges is just the first procedural step in the case against her. We’ve not heard her side of the story. And since Murphy will not be able to tell his side of the same story, it will rest on her word vs. what the police find.
When she surrendered to authorities in New Orleans on Sunday morning, Hall was accompanied by an attorney. Today, The New Orleans Advocate identifies the defense attorney as John Fuller.
The Advocate was in the court as Hall was arraigned. Matt Sledge reports Hall wept a little as the proceedings developed.
Her attorney said, according to Sledge’s reporting, “We look forward to airing everything out in a public forum. There is definitely more to the story than what’s confined to the four corners of the application for an arrest warrant.”
A preliminary hearing is March 14.
Questions We Have
So, here’s what we’re waiting to find out in this case:
Did Hall know someone at the Empress? Those other guests — who could also know her — could be playing dumb with investigators as they search for clues.
Was this the first time she used the Empress Hotel? Are hotel staff covering for her in any way? The Empress is a hotel with about a 1-star reputation, only because you have to give 1 star. How much can staff and ownership be trusted?
When investigators arrived, Is it clear that Murphy was or wasn’t robbed? It may be that only Murphy’s wife would be able to answer that question. She was with him in New Orleans at the time. They were clearly separated at some point Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. She’d know if anything on him when they last saw each other is now missing.
Why did Hall check into the room using her name? It doesn’t make sense for a known prostitute to check into a hotel room using her name and ID if she’s planning to kill her john. Hall’s been actively working as a prostitute since 2012.
Where were Murphy and Hall together prior to walking into the Empress Hotel together? How did they get there? Did they walk or get a cab or Uber? It’s not clear based on any reports Murphy’s whereabouts early Thursday morning before checking into this seedy hotel and even back into Wednesday night.
It’s also not clear when Murphy and his wife originally arrived in New Orleans.
And of course, the big question here is: What happened in that room? What prompted Megan Hall to murder Pat Murphy?