SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Gerald Strader always kept in close touch with his wife of nearly six years. She was the housekeeping manager at the Rodeway Inn in Venice. She was employed there since December 2019.
The couple lived at the motel and had a protocol to ensure she stayed safe while cleaning rooms.
“She texts me when she starts the room so I will know. Normally if it is a really bad room, she would say ‘it’ll just take me longer or can you get this for me’,” said Strader.
After getting no reply to multiple texts and calls Tuesday morning, red flags went up and Strader went looking for his wife. He says the room of the door she said she was cleaning was closed.
“Protocol would be for her to have the door open while she is cleaning the room. They were so shorthanded yesterday that I just assumed with the door closed that they had moved her to one of the other floors or something like that,” said Strader. “Nobody had seen her and then when I went and finally opened the door, I found her,” he continued.
His wife, who he identified to 8 On Your Side as 46-year-old Tina Strader, had been beaten and left for dead in the closet of the room she was cleaning.
Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman says the gruesome scene is any spouse’s worst nightmare.
“No homicide scene is pleasant, but certainly when a spouse is the one that finds you and has to take the CPR instructions from dispatch, I can’t imagine how difficult that was for him,” said Sheriff Hoffman.
Strader says Tina was well-liked at the motel.
“It has been amazing the messages and the stories that I have been told. She was the only reason that they stayed there and the kind little things she did for them. They were like blown away and amazed and I’m like, that is Tina,” said Strader. “That place is our family. We have been there for a long, long time and everybody and all the places around here that we frequent, they are all in pieces because of all of this,” he continued.
The 46-year-old leaves behind four children and two grandchildren.
The 30-year-old man charged in her death had been staying at the hotel for about six days, according to authorities. The two did not know one another.
Stephen Havrilka of Venice is charged with second-degree murder. He has a lengthy criminal history including 34 prior felony charges, 19 felony convictions, 16 misdemeanor charges, 10 misdemeanor convictions, and four stints in prison. He is being held in the Sarasota County Jail without bond. His arraignment is scheduled for May 28.