The parents of a former north Alabama high school homecoming queen have filed a lawsuit seeking $100 million against the motel in Knoxville where she was killed, allegedly by a motel employee.
Cynthia Senn and Michael Peeden, both of Florence, Ala., filed the lawsuit in Knox County Circuit Court against the Days Inn Corp. and its parent companies over the death of 21-year-old Jennifer Lee Hampton.
Hampton, a former Waterloo High homecoming queen, was allegedly strangled by 19-year-old Valentino Vasquez Miranda when she was on a business trip to Knoxville on Sept. 21.
Authorities say Miranda, a housekeeper at the motel, used a master key to enter Hampton’s room, then sexually assulated and killed her. Hampton’s nude body was found a week later in Melton Hill Lake.
The suit accuses the defendants of being negligent for hiring illegal immigrants without performing background investigations. It also accuses the defendants of negligence for allowing them to have master keys to patrons’ rooms.
The motel has since changed its franchise from Days Inn to AmeriStay Hotel and Suites.
Miranda is charged with murder and is being held in the Knox County Jail without bond.
Wyndham Hotel Group spokeswoman Christine DaSilva said the company, which is named as a defendant, has a policy not to comment on pending litigation.
Nick Patel, manager of the Knoxville motel, and his attorney, Rocky King, of Knoxville, did not immediately return calls seeking comment last Thursday.
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