Suspect in gruesome hotel murder ruled incompetent to stand trial

Stephen Matthew Havrilka
Stephen Matthew Havrilka(SCSO)
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 10:03 AM EDT
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VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - A convicted felon accused of brutally murdering a Venice hotel maid a year ago has been ruled incompetent to stand trial.

Stephen Matthew Havrilka, 31, was in court with his attorney Wednesday when Judge Thomas Krug announced Havrilka was “incompetent to proceed” to trial that was scheduled to begin April 11.

Court documents show his defense attorney was directed to file an order of commitment.

Deputies encountered a horrific scene April 20, 2021 when they were called to the Rodeway Inn on South Tamiami Trail.

Tina Stader, who had worked for the hotel since 2019, was found severely battered and unconscious, in a closet of a room she had been cleaning. She was discovered by her husband who became concerned when she did not answer texts earlier that day.

He called 911, removed a towel that had been stuffed in her mouth, and attempted to administer CPR. Deputies and paramedics arrived and Strader was taken to a hospital, where she died later that day.

Deputies found Havrilka a short time later. The arrest report said Havrilka was acting erratic, speaking gibberish, and he started kneeling and praying on the ground. He appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

Hoffman said it took five deputies to subdue Havrilka, who was placed into protective custody and transported to Venice Regional Bayfront Hospital.

Hoffman said a watch and shirt Havrilka was seen wearing in surveillance video that morning were found in a wooded area near the hotel. Hoffman said Havrilka had been staying at the hotel for the past six days.

Investigators called the crime scene one of the worst they had ever seen. “He is an animal,” Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman said after Havrilka’s arrest, saying the suspect had 19 previous felony convictions. “He’s very familiar to us,” he said.

Hoffman said his heart goes out to the victim’s family, particularly the husband, who was the first to find his wife. “It was a bloody scene,” Hoffman said. “I can’t imagine doing what the husband had to do.”

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