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Suspected Neo-Nazi Accused Of Florida Housekeeper's Motel Slaying Deemed Unfit For Trial

Tina Strader’s husband, Gerald Strader, told Oxygen.com a judge's determination that the man accused of her murder, Stephen Havrilka, was mentally unfit to stand trial was frustrating and would prolong his grief.

By Dorian Geiger
Housekeeper Found Murdered In Motel Room Where She Worked

A suspected a neo-Nazi who allegedly suffocated a Florida housekeeper to death last year in a violent motel attack was deemed incompetent to stand trial this week.

Stephen Havrilka, 31, is accused of murdering Tina Strader at a Venice, Florida motel last April. The case had been set to go to trial on Monday, but he was found unfit to participate in his defense by Sarasota County Judge Thomas Krug during a court hearing on Wednesday, according to court filings obtained by Oxygen.com.

The judge’s determination came after Havrilka was examined by two psychologists. Havrilka is now expected to be committed to a state psychiatric facility until (or if) he regains competency.

Tina Strader’s husband found his 46-year-old wife bloodied and unresponsive — with a towel shoved in her mouth — in a room she’d been cleaning at the Rodeway Inn in Venice, Florida on April 20, 2021, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com. The couple, who lived in the motel, shared a room on the same floor where she was murdered.

Havrilka, a motel guest, was arrested after police said surveillance cameras captured him entering the room that Tina Strader had been cleaning at the time of her murder. A bloody towel police found in the 31-year-old’s room further linked him to the Florida housekeeper’s slaying. It allegedly took five deputies to restrain the partially nude Havrilka, who authorities described as “combative” and possibly under the influence of drugs.

Stephen Havrilka Pd

“He was literally speaking in tongues,” Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman said of Havrilka at a press conference last year. “He was clearly under the influence of narcotics or some type of stimulant.” 

Havrilka has suspected ties to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups as well as 19 prior felony convictions, including for a number of violent crimes such as domestic violence and battery burglary, according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com.

“There is no other way to describe Mr. Havrilka — he is an animal,” Hoffman added last year.

Tina Strader’s 53-year-old husband, Gerald, says he is both frustrated and disappointed with the judge’s ruling on the mental competency of his wife’s alleged killer.

“Even though it was not unexpected, it certainly wasn’t the result I was looking for,” Gerald Strader, told Oxygen.com. “I’m kind of left in this weird limbo. I want justice for her."

"Nobody’s been convicted of her murder," he added. "There’s no justice for her and no peace for me because now I have to live in this plateau of not knowing. Five, 10 years down the road it could all come back to the surface and I’d have to relive all of this.”

As the  anniversary of his wife’s death approaches, he’s still haunted by her absence.

“I dream that she’s there and then I wake up and the bed’s still empty,” Gerald Strader said.

The retired UPS worker, who is fully disabled and suffers from an autoimmune condition, was confined to to a wheelchair in 2020.  The absence of his wife, who had been his primary caretaker, has added to the Florida widower's agony. 

Gerald Strader holding the silver pendant of his late wife, Tina Strader's thumbprint.

“I have my ups and my downs,” he said. “It’s a cycle, it’s a roller coaster. Sometimes I’ll be OK, and sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed. I have to just keep going. I have to. I have no other choice.”

Strader, who is scheduled to undergo a right shoulder replacement next week, said there have been small glimmers of hope in his grief. For instance, he’s learning to walk again for the first time since losing the use of his legs.

“With having nobody here 24/7, I just kind of had to,” he explained.

He described his late spouse to Oxygen.com in a prior interview as a “bubbly,” “amazing” and “fiery” partner who was known as fierce animal-lover.

“I just don’t want her memory forgotten,” Gerald Strader said.

It’s unclear when or if the case will go to trial, ahead of Havrilka's pending transfer to a state mental facility.  

Havrilka’s legal counsel declined to comment on the case on Friday afternoon.

“I do not have any comment on the court’s ruling,” public defender Marc Gilman told Oxygen.com in an emailed statement.

Havrilka is being held at a Sarasota County jail while paperwork regarding his transfer is completed and processed, his lawyer said.

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