FAMILY of murdered woman begged her to quit her job

Monday, July 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Brenda McElyea's relatives begged her to quit her job at La Quinta Inn because they thought it was too dangerous.

They were right. McElyea and another motel employee were murdered last week working at a Del City La Quinta.

McElyea's family had been worried about her safety since she was robbed three years ago at a La Quinta in Tulsa. But she wasn't the type to be scared off, said her aunt, Sue Webster of Tulsa.

``She loved her job,'' Webster said. ``Her favorite part of it was getting to meet so many different people. She wasn't going to give that up because of what happened.''

McElyea was working as an assistant manager at a La Quinta in Tulsa in 1998 when she was robbed.

``I told her, `Honey, it's so dangerous. You should find something else.' But she wouldn't hear of it. Brenda was strong,'' Webster said.

Authorities say she likely was robbed again Wednesday before being shot to death at the motel where she was filling in for a few weeks for a manager on vacation.

McElyea and Felecia Smith, 42, of Del City, were found dead by a co-worker. Smith died of multiple trauma, including a gunshot wound and blunt and sharp injuries. McElyea's death was due to a gunshot wound to the head.

No arrests have been made. La Quinta officials are offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the double homicide.

``I feel so guilty about it,'' Webster said. ``Maybe I should have tried harder to talk her out of it. But I think if she hadn't died in this robbery, she'd probably still be going to work. That's just the way she was.''

Authorities said McElyea had been assigned to run the Del City motel for a few weeks before she was to return to Tulsa.

She worked at the Tulsa inn beginning in 1992 when Webster was the general manager.

``We worked side by side,'' her aunt said. ``Brenda was a very hard worker. She wanted everything to be just right.''

McElyea was about to become the general manager of one of the Tulsa motels.