KNOXVILLE (CN) - A Days Inn employee used a master key to enter a guest's room and rape, sodomize, torture and murder her, then dump her body in the Clinch River, the woman's parents say. And they say the motel lied to the Knoxville Police Department to cover up a previous assault and attempted rape of a guest, also through an employee's use of a master key.
The parents say their daughter was murdered on Sept. 20 by a Days Inn employee, an undocumented immigrant whom Days Inn failed to investigate before hiring.
They say Days Inn covered up another assault, on April 20, when a man assaulted and tried to rape a guest.
"On or about April 20, 2008, a manager of defendants covered up defendants' actions by providing false and fictitious information to officers of the Knoxville Police Department who was investigating the illegal entry," according to the complaint in Knox County Court.
"The manager of defendants falsely told police officers from the Knoxville Police Department that no one other than herself and the tenants who rented the rooms had a key to the female patron's room."
After that incident, the parents say, "The defendants willfully and recklessly failed and refused to secure master keys to its patrons' rooms" and "did nothing to monitor the use of its master keys for patron safety".
The complaint states: "Jennifer Lee Hampton was in her room at Days Inn Motel located at 326 Lovell Road, Knoxville, TN 37922 when an illegal immigrant who was the agent, servant or employee of defendants entered her room without warning using a master key provided by the defendants and after entry did assault, torture, rape, sodomize, murder Jennifer Hampton and dispose of her body.
"The defendants' actions in providing master keys to its employees for unlimited use and without any measures for patron safety, which includes, but it not limited to, providing said keys to illegal immigrants without any background investigations, were a direct and proximate cause of the burglary into Jennifer Hampton's room and the brutal assault, torture, rape, sodomy, murder, and disposal of her body."
The parents sued Turkey Creek Hospitality, Turkey Creek Hospitality dba Days Inn/Lovell Road, Days Inn Worldwide, Wyndham Worldwide Operations, and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts LLC. They demand $25 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. They are represented by C. Edward Daniel with Daniel, Pemberton & Scott.
The complaint does not state who the alleged assailant and killer is.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.