Hor­ror in Hiltown

Triple mur­der in a quiet Philadel­phia sub­urb sent shock waves through the com­mu­nity

The Western Star - - REGIONAL / PROVINCIAL - Max Haines

Eric Mo­tis lived on Key Drive in Hill­town Town­ship, lo­cated about 30 miles from Philadel­phia. His good friend, 16-year-old Doug Hoopes, lived on the same street. The boys saw each other al­most ev­ery day. At 19 years of age, Eric was three years older than his buddy.

Dur­ing that sum­mer of 1990, if you strolled down Key Drive, you couldn’t help but be im­pressed. The houses were large, lux­ury homes. The grounds were well man­i­cured. This was priv­i­leged sub­ur­ban liv­ing. All the fam­i­lies on Key Drive were do­ing well fi­nan­cially.

Doug’s fa­ther, Howard, died of can­cer in 1987. His mother, Louise, worked as a sec­re­tary at a hos­pi­tal in nearby Sellersvil­le. She had been left with enough fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity to en­sure that she and her two boys, Doug and 14-year-old Dan, could stay on and live a com­fort­able life in their home. All was as it should be at 25 Key Dr.

Down the way at the Mo­tis res­i­dence, some­thing was go­ing dras­ti­cally wrong with Eric. He had al­ways been an “A” stu­dent. He dressed metic­u­lously, was well­be­haved and shunned drugs. Ev­ery­one agreed that the slight, 135pound teenager was a bright young man with a bril­liant fu­ture. He talked of be­com­ing a chem­i­cal en­gi­neer. Yet, in his se­nior year, for no ap­par­ent rea­son, Eric’s per­son­al­ity abruptly changed. He no longer re­spected his teach­ers. He stole his fam­ily’s GMC truck, as well as a .25 cal­i­bre au­to­matic and a .357 Mag­num and took off.Two weeks later, Eric was ap­pre­hended as he tried to siphon gaso­line out of a parked car. He was charged with unau­tho­rized use of a ve­hi­cle, theft of two weapons and at­tempted theft of gaso­line. He spent a week in jail be­fore his fam­ily bailed him out. Eric left town and failed to ap­pear on his court date. Au­thor­i­ties and his fam­ily were at a loss as to why he had sud­denly turned bad. There was more to come.

On Oct. 15, 1990, at­trac­tive 42year-old Louise Hoopes failed to show up at her of­fice in the Grand View Hos­pi­tal in Sellersvil­le. Her su­pe­rior tried to reach her by phone, but re­ceived no an­swer. Louise had never missed a day’s work with­out call­ing. Mildly alarmed, he called a neigh­bour and asked her to look in on Louise and the boys.

It was 9:45 on a Mon­day morn­ing when the un­sus­pect­ing neigh­bour walked over to the Hoopes’ res­i­dence. She no­ticed the garage door was open and the fam­ily ve­hi­cle, a Chevy Lu­mina, was not in its usual park­ing space. Af­ter call­ing out for Louise and re­ceiv­ing no re­sponse, the neigh­bour gin­gerly made her way up­stairs. In the mas­ter bed­room, she found Louise un­der a blan­ket on the bed. Re­mov­ing the blan­ket, she was stunned to see that Louise’s head had been hor­ri­bly crushed and her neck vi­ciously cut. There was blood every­where. Louise’s black panties lay on the floor.

Po­lice ar­rived at the scene. In an ad­join­ing bed­room they found the body of Dan Hoopes in­side a sleep­ing bag on the floor. His skull was badly beaten as well. In a third bed­room, po­lice found Doug Hoopes’ body un­der a blan­ket on his bed. Like his mother and brother, he had been sav­agely clubbed to death.

Slaugh­tered while they slept

De­tec­tives quickly the­o­rized that the Hoopes fam­ily had been slaugh­tered while they slept. Who­ever had com­mit­ted the mur­ders had most likely driven away in the fam­ily’s 1990 sil­ver Lu­mina. Louise had been raped at the time of or im­me­di­ately af­ter death.

Louise’s male friends were ques­tioned. All were ex­on­er­ated of any com­plic­ity in the crimes. A houseto-house sur­vey re­vealed the ex­is­tence of Eric Mo­tis, who had a less than savoury rep­u­ta­tion. Eric was miss­ing from the area and there was some ev­i­dence that he, to­gether with two bud­dies, had taken off for Florida well be­fore the mur­ders.

De­spite the dis­tances in­volved, Eric be­came a prime sus­pect. A 1982 Pon­tiac had been stolen along Route 309 back on Sept. 24, when Eric had gone miss­ing. The Pon­tiac was re­cov­ered on the day of the triple mur­ders near Key Drive. Was it pos­si­ble that Eric had driven to Florida in the Pon­tiac, re­turned to Hill­town, ditched the Pon­tiac and took off again in the miss­ing Lu­mina?

Friends of the Hoopes fam­ily as­sisted po­lice in mak­ing an in­ven­tory of items they felt had been stolen. Among the miss­ing ob­jects were a TV set, a stereo sys­tem and a di­a­mond necklace.

Eric’s friends were ques­tioned. All co-op­er­ated with po­lice. They con­firmed that Eric had in­deed re­turned to the area. He had told his friends he in­tended to buy a Lu­mina, which he would fi­nance with money he had re­ceived as birth­day presents. Once the deal was com­pleted, he planned to go back to Florida. That was good enough for the Penn­syl­va­nia po­lice. They flew to Mi­ami.

Taken into cus­tody

As luck would have it, the of­fi­cers spot­ted Eric’s two friends walk­ing along Collins Av­enue. They iden­ti­fied them­selves and told the teenagers the rea­son why they were in Mi­ami. Once again, Eric’s friends were to­tally open with the po­lice. Yes, Eric was driv­ing a 1990 sil­ver Lu­mina with Penn­syl­va­nia plates. They gave the of­fi­cers Eric’s ad­dress. He was taken into cus­tody with­out in­ci­dent.

Mean­while, Eric’s friends told of­fi­cers that Eric had driven back to Penn­syl­va­nia since ar­riv­ing in Florida. He left with a Pon­tiac and re­turned with the Lu­mina. On one oc­ca­sion, he opened the trunk of the Lu­mina and showed them a TV and a stereo. He also dis­played a pair of blood­stained gloves, a small sledge­ham­mer and a knife. Eric had told them that th­ese were the weapons he had used to kill an en­tire fam­ily. He went on to say that his vic­tims were the Hoopes fam­ily.

Eric had de­scribed the mur­ders to his friends. He told them that he knew the garage was al­ways open and so had no trou­ble gain­ing en­trance. Doug had once shown him where the fam­ily kept the house key. He en­tered the house at 3:30 a.m. and made his way to the mas­ter bed­room, where he held a pil­low over Louise’s face. But Louise fought hard. She man­aged to get the pil­low off her face and scream. Eric brought the sledge­ham­mer down on Louise’s head seven times. When she con­tin­ued to breathe, he slit her throat.

Eric made his way to Dan’s room and clubbed him to death with the sledge­ham­mer while the 14-yearold slept in his sleep­ing bag. Only his friend Doug re­mained alive in the house. The noise of the first two killings had awak­ened Doug. He sat up and rubbed sleep from his eyes. Eric watched and waited un­til Doug lay back in bed. Then he crawled on his hands and knees to the side of the bed and com­menced to club Doug. Doug man­aged to grab his ad­ver­sary’s arm, but soon the blows took their toll. He re­leased his grip and fell back, dead. As Eric passed the mas­ter bed­room, he heard laboured breath­ing. Un­be­liev­ably, Louise was still alive. Eric en­tered the room and raped the hap­less woman as she died.

When asked how his mur­der spree had felt, Eric had told his friends, “I en­joyed ev­ery minute of it.” A search of Eric’s apart­ment un­cov­ered most of the stolen goods taken from the Hoopes’ home.

On March 11, 1991, Eric stood trial for triple mur­der. He pleaded guilty to all three mur­ders. Be­cause he had no pre­vi­ous crim­i­nal record, the pre­sid­ing judge chose to spare his life. Eric Mo­tis was sen­tenced to three con­sec­u­tive life terms.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.