HUNTER: Murder in Room 247 latest in long line of motel slayings

Once upon a time in the far eastern reaches of Toronto, travelers entering the city were greeted by a crowd of low-rise motels.

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With names like the Avon, the Royal, the Americana, and the Roycroft Motel – among others – they offered clean, quiet accommodations and perhaps a swim for weary families on vacation.

The pool at the Roycroft was filled in and paved over years ago. It’s a far cry from the 1960s postcards of bathing beauties sitting around the cement capsule on a sunny day.

The Roycroft Motel has seen better days. BRAD HUNTER/TORONTO SUN

Now the Avon and the Royal are boarded up. The others have seen better days.

Today they are likely to be inhabited by sex workers, homeless people, and husbands who were booted out of the family home.

Aside from the decay, Mord is a casual visitor to these relics from another time.

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Finally, Shawn Walters, 39, of no fixed address, came to the end of the line in Room 247 at the Roycroft. According to police, officers arrived on March 6 and found Walters with a gunshot wound at the motel at 3137 Kingston Rd.

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Walters died in hospital six days later. Jahmaal Frederick-Dywer, 35, of no fixed address, is now charged with first-degree murder.

Trouble isn’t new to the Roycroft Motel. In 2021, a man died in a fire in his motel room.

In 2007, a jealous husband caught his 22-year-old wife in bed with another man at Roycroft. She was discovered minutes later, dying in the parking lot of her nearby apartment. At the motel, her secret lover was slashed in the chest with a knife.

Detectives later determined the woman died from head injuries, but before that her heartbroken husband asked her not to call the police.

Murder has also acted in Americana. BRAD HUNTER/TORONTO SUN

In 1994, a 24-year-old woman was shot and injured in the Roycroft while her four-year-old daughter watched as she opened her bedroom door. The victim later told detectives the shooter was looking for another man.

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But it would be unfair to point the finger of sorrow entirely at the Roycroft. Others like the Americana (Low Prices! Wifi! Clean Rooms!) have also seen violence.

On March 26, 2003, George Kotsopoulos, 58, entertained Douglas Windebank, Jason Harris, Joan Elaine Downey and Barbara Mead with crack and booze in his room at the Americana Motel.

He had checked in two days earlier. His till would be on a stretcher.

Kotsopoulos – who was suffering from a whole host of health problems – didn’t see the sun set that day. He was discovered on the bathroom floor by the cleaning lady, gagged, bound at the wrists and ankles and covered with a sheet from the waist up.

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Windebank had planned to rob the dead man. He later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

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On a recent drive along Kingston Rd. I was struck by the tempting treats offered along with the accommodations.

Hav-A-Nap offered Winter Specials and Weekly Deals. Better news: There were job offers.

The Roycroft also offered WiFi, clean rooms and low prices. And as if to emphasize the attractive prices, the sign explained the prices as LOW!! LOW!! LOW!!

Other places along the Strip offer FREE COFFEE! and remarkably, quite a few potential guests are still teasing with COLOR TV!

What is no longer offered is a smile. From family fun to heartbreak in less than 40 years.

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