LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) – As a judge grants an unconditional release to the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, two Colorado women are recalling their interactions with John Hinckley, Jr., just days before his infamous crime.
“Very different when you grow up in a motel. You meet a lot of interesting people,” Kathy Lee told FOX31. Lee and her sister Diane Redford grew up in the Golden Hours Motel on west Colfax Avenue in Lakewood. The motel was owned by their parents. And in early March 1981, Hinckley checked in for a 16-day stay. He reportedly plotted the crime in the motel. Days later, he shot President Reagan and others outside a Washington, D.C. hotel.
“Very quiet. Very nice guy. You would never have thought it. I think we were shocked,” Lee said.
“We’d be doing hopscotch or playing with the ball and he’d come by and he would ask us questions and buy us Dr. Peppers and ask us who’s your favorite movie star? What movies do you guys like,” Lee said.
He would frequently ask them about the actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley was infatuated with the actress, and wanted to shoot Reagan to win her attention.
“We didn’t even know who Jodie Foster was,” Lee said.
Hinckley’s stay at the Golden Hours Motel abruptly ended 16 days after check-in. Lee and Redford were dumbfounded when they saw him days later on TV.
“I think I was the first one to recognize him because I was on Spring Break of my seventh grade, and it was all over the news. You know, I’m sitting at home with my parents, watching TV and then everything’s being interrupted by national news and the coverage. And when they showed a picture of him, I’m like ‘oh my God, mom, that’s you know, John Hinckley, he was in the room upstairs,'” Redford said.
That’s when Redford started searching for Hinckley’s check-in records.
“I found his card, and I was getting ready to call the police and give them the information, and that’s when the FBI walked in. So somehow they knew right away,” she said.
Hinckley left without paying his full bill. But despite all his parents, who lived in Evergreen, were dealing with, they later mailed the motel owners a check for the unpaid room, and a letter saying they were sorry.