News Releases

January 24, 2018 

ROANOKE POLICE INVESTIGATE MURDER AT STARLITE MOTEL

Roanoke, Va.-  
On January 23, 2018 at 7:48 p.m., Roanoke Police responded to a robbery in progress call in the 4400 block of Melrose Avenue NW, the Starlite Motel.  E-911 dispatchers relayed to responding officers that the caller was in the motel's office.  Dispatchers told officers they could hear a loud, violent disorder in the background, The female caller had stopped talking to the dispatchers on the phone but left the line open.

Upon arrival, one of the officers saw through a window that a male was holding a baseball bat and standing over two females who were huddled together. One female had serious visible injuries, and the other female was also found to be injured. The officer went to a side door and could see an adult male victim in the floor who was not moving and had obvious signs of critical injury.  Officers tried to get in the office through an exterior door, but found that door was locked.  As the officer who arrived first on scene tried to open the door, one of the female victims ran toward the door to try and let the officer in. The suspect grabbed her and stopped her from doing it.  Simultaneously, the officer began kicking the door in an attempt to gain access to the office. The door broke in several places, and the officer began to pull portions of the door away to gain entry. The suspect began physically trying to stop the officer from pushing the door open, but the officer tore apart a portion of the door to allow them and other officers entry. The suspect dropped the baseball bat and ran back through the business, dove through a glass window to the exterior of the building, and then ran on foot. Officers took the suspect into custody after a foot pursuit that ended at the intersection of Pilot Street and Melrose Avenue.

Ishvarlal Kuvarji Patel, age 60, of Troutville was pronounced deceased at the scene. The two other women inside the office at the Starlite Motel, both adult females who are related to the male victim, were transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for treatment of their injuries. Both females had been struck with the the baseball bat by the suspect.

The suspect, identified as Timothy Mwandi Church, age 26, of Roanoke was taken to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for medical treatment and then released to officers. Church was taken to the Roanoke City Jail and has currently been charged with one count of murder. He is being held without bond. The investigation is ongoing.