ANY QUESTIONS: Vacant hotel building has history of crime

Sunday, July 13, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Have a question about goings-on around town? This is part of a project called "Any Questions?" that takes on community curiosities and tries to address them. Submit your questions to or by using the form below this story.

COLUMBIA — Reader Andy Schuette asked the Missourian about the vacant hotel building at 2904 Clark Lane behind Steak ‘n Shake and Bob Evans at the intersection of Interstate 70 and U.S. 63.

The building is currently under construction to become a Best Western hotel, according to a sign left on the front door. But the building has a rather dark history.

In November 2007, a series of crimes terrorized the building.

On Nov. 15, 2007, an armed man robbed what was then the Fairfield Inn, raped the clerk on duty and stole her car. The hotel changed its name to the Comfort Inn four days later, though whether the name change was scheduled before the crimes occurred is unclear. On Nov. 24, 2007, General Manager Cynthia White was robbed and shot to death early in the morning.

Police arrested Dwight T. Hayes in connection to White’s death. According to previous Missourian reporting, he was sentenced to more than 150 years in prison for both the sexual assault and the murder, among other charges.

According to Boone County merchant license records, the Comfort Inn did not renew its license in 2011, which it needed to operate. The details of when the Best Western will open are unclear, as hotel owner George Pate did not respond to phone calls.

As of July 4, weeds were growing through cracks in the building's parking lot. Only a few portraits and shelves decorated the rooms. Tools were scattered throughout the parts of the building visible through windows, and plywood covered the pool.

Supervising editor is Seth Klamann.

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