The Unsolved Murder of Joy Hayward

Joy Hayward

Joy Hayward was murdered on February 12, 2004, in a Days Inn Hotel, in Chester, Pennsylvania. She was last seen in the lobby around 3am; her body was discovered by a cleaning woman the following evening. Joy’s murder remains unsolved.


Joy was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland. She had attended Salisbury University and graduated before moving to Jacksonville, North Carolina, in 2003, to live with her boyfriend, Mike.

During the time of Joy’s murder, Mike had been staying in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, for a temporary work assignment. Joy, who had been staying with her mother in Annapolis during this time, decided to take a drive to visit Mike.

The Night of the Murder

When Joy arrived at Mike’s, the couple had a few drinks. Shortly after, they had an argument, prompting Joy to leave. When Joy left, she took her cellphone along with Mike’s cellphone. She drove to a nearby hotel, the Days Inn in Chester, Pennsylvania. Joy checked into the hotel around 1:30am but did not go up to her room on the 6th floor. She left for about an hour and a half; according to the desk clerk, they exchanged a few words before she went upstairs around 3:00am. The desk clerk also recalled a man walking behind Joy, who rode the elevator at the same time.

After Joy got to her room, she called the front desk requesting assistance, though she did not say what she needed assistance for. The desk clerk told Joy they were unable to leave the front. This would be the last time Joy spoke to someone. Joy was murdered in her hotel room.

The Scene

A worker discovered Joy’s remains the following day around 4:30pm on February 13, 2004. Investigators believed she had been dead for 12 hours before she was. The beds in the room were made and Joy’s clothing was folded and left on one of the beds. Investigators also found an ice bucket in the room, filled with water, that had Newport and Marlboro Light cigarette butts floating in it. Neither phone was recovered.

Joy was found in the bathtub. A washcloth had been placed in the drain and there was about 6 inches of water in the tub. Investigators could tell she had been beaten but could not conclusively determine if she had been sexually assaulted. The cause of death had been determined to be asphyxiation.  


Police were able to gather DNA from the scene. The genetic profile came back as belonging to a Black male. Police felt this was a strong lead, as the desk clerk described the man who got into the elevator with Joy to be Black.

Though the DNA did suggest that a Black man may have been responsible for Joy’s death, investigators still wanted to speak to Mike. Mike spoke with investigators, gave his DNA, and was ruled out as a suspect.

The DNA gathered by police did not receive any hits in the National Database.

Sketch from Chester Police Department

Sexual Assault Victim

On June 22, 2004, a woman was waiting for a bus a few blocks away from the Days Inn. A man on a bike circled around the block a few times before he approached and told her he had a gun. He forced her into a nearby wooded area and raped her. The man attempted to strangle the women but fled when he heard people nearby. The victim described her attacker to be a Black male, between 5’5” and 5’5”, had several gold teeth in his mouth, a light mustache, and facial hair, who could be approximately 30 years old. Investigators were able to collect DNA from the victim and it matched the suspect who had murdered Joy.

Cold Case

It has been over 15 years since Joy’s murder without any leads. Joy’s family is still hoping to find the person responsible for her murder. They would like to bring as much awareness to Joy’s unsolved murder as possible.

The family is offering a $25,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of Joy’s murderer.


Joy’s family is also asking people to sign a petition to have the DNA taken from the crime scene transferred to Parabon Labs in Virginia to be examined and tested. You can sign the petition here.

Anyone who might have any relevant information can call:

Gordan (610)891-4703

The Chester Police Department at (610)447-7931

Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers at 1800-472-8477

Crime Stoppers Online



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