Columbia hotel clerk shot to death, police said

Saturday, November 24, 2007 | 6:49 p.m. CST; updated 5:40 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — A clerk at a Columbia hotel was found shot to death early Saturday, Columbia police said.

Cynthia L. White, 55, was found with a single gunshot wound to the front of her head at about 6:15 a.m. Saturday at the Comfort Inn, 2904 Clark Lane, Columbia police Capt. Brad Nelson said. An undisclosed amount of money was missing from the hotel, he said.

“We believe robbery was the motive,” Nelson said.

Several guests at the hotel had been trying to reach the clerk, Nelson said. One guest called the Comfort Inn in Jefferson City, Columbia police Capt. Stephen Monticelli said. An employee of that hotel then contacted Columbia police and asked them to check on White, Monticelli said. When police arrived, they found White dead in the hotel office.

Another clerk at the hotel was robbed at gunpoint at about 2:45 a.m. Nov. 16. In that incident, a man walked into the hotel lobby, told the clerk his car had broken down and asked if he could wait in the lobby until someone came to pick him up, the Missourian previously reported. After waiting for about 20 minutes, the man displayed a small-caliber handgun and demanded cash. The clerk gave the man an undisclosed amount of money and her car keys. He was last seen driving away in the clerk’s 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix. In that incident, the clerk activated a holdup alarm, Nelson said.

Nelson said police do not yet know if the two robberies are related.

The hotel had recently changed hands, changing its name from Fairfield Inn to Comfort Inn within the past two weeks, he said. There was no surveillance camera in the hotel, which was surrounded by crime scene tape Saturday afternoon. The hotel appeared to be closed, and no one answered the hotel’s main phone number on Saturday.

Nelson said White was killed between 1:30 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. Saturday. Anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area during that time is urged to call the Columbia Police Department at 874-7652 or CrimeStoppers at 875-8477.

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