The Murder of Flight Attendant Nancy Ludwig

Nancy Ludwig

February 17, 1991 was like any other workday for Northwest Airlines flight attendant Nancy Ludwig. She arrived at Detroit Metro Airport in the evening, after working a flight from Las Vegas. Along with other crew members, she took a shuttle from the airport to the Hilton Airport Inn in Romulus, MI, where they were staying the night. A little after 9 p.m., Nancy took the elevator to the third floor, and walked down a long hallway to her room, number 354.

The next morning, a housekeeper bypassed her rom due to the Do Not Disturb sign hung on the door. Later that day, after she should have checked out, the housekeeper opened the door and found Nancy lying dead on the carpet in a pool of blood. The television was turned on, tuned to CNN’s coverage of the Persian Gulf War. She had been raped before having her throat cut. Unfortunately, police had little evidence to work with in the pre-DNA era. The perpetrator had removed everything from the room that could potentially identify him, including the trash bag. After reviewing the crime scene, police surmised the killer had followed Nancy to her room, and forced his way in after she unlocked the door.

The case remain unsolved for more than a decade, greatly frustrating Nancy’s family, who did their best to keep her case in the news and the investigation active. However, in 2001, Jeffrey Wayne Gorton was arrested in the 1986 rape and murder of Margarette Eby, Provost of the University of Michigan-Flint. Police

Jeffrey Gorton

were able to identify him through a fingerprint left at the crime scene. Police were then able to use DNA to link the two cases, and with a suspect in hand, police found additional evidence linking Gorton to Nancy’s murder.

Gorton was found guilty in both cases, and received a 40-80 year sentence, as well as a life sentence.


The hotel is still in business, now operating as the Raddison Hotel Detroit Metro Airport. It is located at 31500 Wick Road, Romulus, MI. Nancy’s room was #354.

41 thoughts on “The Murder of Flight Attendant Nancy Ludwig

    • I checked in as a flight attendant the same early evening as her body was found. The staff never said a word at checkin/did not escort the crew. I found out when I turned on my tv as i situated myself in my room, and viewed a news story that had filmed the police in the parking lot and recapping the event! I called the front desk to confirm the tragedy to be met with indifference and no thought of responsibility to tell us prior to entering our rooms. I immediately called each crew member to warn them and we coordinated leaving the next early morning!! Almost 20years later…so sad!!!

      • I flew with NWA that year and stayed there too. Also stayed at a hotel in Newark wher there were false ceilings in the rooms that could be accessed from the hall ceilings. Did not sleep that night.

  • The hotel name now is Delta Marriott, I am a flight attendant n stayed there 2 weekends ago. This story creeps me out now that I have stayed there.

    • I always watch my back wherever I go. I don’t trust anybody while I’m traveling and I make sure my family know where I am all the time. Be careful out there ladies, lots of sick men out there!

  • Shocked still in business. Glad he was caught. Did not even know her. He needs the death penalty!!!

  • please let me know if room 354 is located next to staircase, if the room is last room in hallway

  • The hotel is now a Delta Hotels by Marriott. Apparently room numbers have been changed, as room 354 is no longer a room at the end of the third floor hall, near the stairwell.

  • I recently stayed at this hotel…at the very end of the very long hallway on the second floor. My room was numbered 239, directly ACROSS from access to a stairwell. The door to the stairwell has a window in it so I can see how the murderer was laying in wait for Mrs. Ludwig. There are actually 2 stairwell doors close to each other…quite unsettling. The rooms have lights that go out if there is no movement…on sensors…it adds to the creepiness of it all. In the morning while taking a shower my bathroom light suddenly went out leaving me in complete darkness ….ugh…

  • Flight Attendants are not to be given rooms with a shared adjoining door or those near the stairwell, according to airline hotel committees. But it still occurs on a regular basis.

  • F/As are easy prey. Always ask the hotel manager to walk you to your room and check it out before you go in, unless a male member of your crew is willing to do it. Once inside, always throw both locks; the deadbolt and the security bar. Stay inside until morning. When you go for breakfast, take your travel bag with you and wait for your crew in the lobby.

    • People need to read the intricacies of the crime. In 1991, guests would just sign in to an open register with their room number. So, he knew what room she would be in and hid in the staircase until she opened the door.

      Sadly, at that time, it was routine procedure fir airline attendants and others on business to leave their suitcase propping the door open until they went in, turned on the lights, and made sure no one was there.

      Everything and everyone failed her…a guest in an adjacent room actually went and knocked on her door as he heard her scream…twice. but he didn’t do anything else. No one answered so he let it go.

    • The room is probably still there just turned it into a supply room for the housekeepers usually what they do!

  • He needs to be put into lethal injection for the crimes he committed against innocent women women in general as a father of a little beautiful daughter this story touched me and my family in a way that repeated offenders like Mr Gorton shall rot in hell

  • I heard that flight attendants are trained to prop the door the door open with their luggage and scan the room before entering.This is how he probably got the jump on her. I will never enter a hotel room the same way now. Women must NEVER assume they are safe in unfamiliar territory and must always be on the defense.

    • Mary, that’s actually why flight attendants use their luggage and prop the doors open to secure the room before entering and locking. You can’t begin to imagine some of the stories. We were taught to check under the beds, closets, etc, before closing up and locking up. It is a catch 22 because like you mentioned anyone can force there way in. But it was Nancy’s tragedy that shed some light on staying super vigilant even to this day.

  • I stayed at this hotel in 1989 going through a training class for Northwest Airlines. So sad thinking back on this. Northwest Airlines past employees carries a lot of heavy hearts.

  • Just saw the story on Forensic Files this was a real tragedy for the family he should have been put under the jail not in it

    • Just saw this on ID. So sad. My heart is heavy just so scary. Things like this can happen to any one. People need to always practice safety.

      • Watching this on forensic files creeped me out it made me want to go and dig a hole and hide and crawl in it forever to think that a so called human could do this to another real human being not only did this animal rape this poor innocent WomenI had read where this animal nearly decapitated her I can only imagine the fright That this women experienced behind that closed door I swear this case makes me think why in the hell on gods crazy polluted earth There is a death penalty if they don’t use it for what it is intended for my god this animal should have made it to the death penalty Hall of Fame And what’s more mind boggling this sick animal is not only sitting on death roll he isn’t even on death roll I swear these judges that make all this money and the people involved in this so called system and sit on there dairy is just as guilty let this have been one of your loved ones he had done this to as overcrowded this stinking world has become you mean to tell me we couldn’t afford to loose an animal we slaughter animals for there meat but when we slaughter our own we get a rain check god help us all and by the way this isn’t the first time he killed he also killed a women in 1986 and only god knows how many more

        • Michigan does not have the death penalty. Ergo, a judge is not at fault. He has to rot in prison for the rest of his pathetic life with no chance of parole. I hope his victims haunt him, but I doubt they do. He’s a psychopath. He has no emotion, empathy, or compassion. He sees women as disposable. Chilling.

  • RIP Nancy Ludwig and my deepest condolences to your husband. I know what you are going through because my wife was murdered on August 5,2019 in Florida. Sorry for your loss.

    • I am so sorry for your loss as well! Things are not going well these days on this planet! We need to concentrate on filling this planet with love. No more anger, fear, hate, etc…then perhaps we can turn things around. I hope people put their faith in our Lord! More than ever we need his help today. We must be deserving in order to serve him. Our Lord is always there–but we must ask for his assistance!

  • He never should have made it to the jail…..people like that can never be reformed, and to think he cried when they gave him the 80 years and was all boo hooie because he was going to be in his 90s before he would get an option for parol. BOOOO HOOOOO Whine, whimper and Sob…….Get over it !!!!

  • Julie Barrette–I just saw this last night on ID. By the way, ID is one of the better channels for true crime. I use to fly in and out of Detroit all the time. I was always flying international; non-the-less–as a female traveling alone 99.9% of the time, mostly in foreign countries, I could clearly identify with this. One always feels safe when they get to their hotel. This is a natural place to let your guard down….but one of the most dangerous places to let your guard down! There are two reasons primarily. You can finally rest and feel wonderful to do so. Number two, you are simply going to a nice room to relax after a long drive or flight– your not worried because for whatever reason most people usually regard the hotel experience as pleasant and peaceful…and it usually is when you wake up alive and well rested. WRONG–ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN OR OLDER COUPLES TRAVELING ALONE. I have heard more horrible stories over the years, especially since I am very well-traveled. I have heard from individuals who have either had their own horrible experiences or heard from others, just how lucky they were to be alive! This is a different type of psychopath–he doesn’t need to stalk anyone. All he has to do is wait in the parking lot and watch who comes in—and–or—-once inside either ring the doorbell and pretend to be delivering some ice to you, or whatever, or simply just hang out, as that psycho did, in the hallway! NEVER LET YOUR GUARD DOWN AT A HOTEL! THIS IS WHERE YOU NEED TO BE ON TOP OF THINGS– MORE THAN EVER!

  • Why should the hotel go out of business because something awful happened there? If you looked up, you’d be surprised how many crimes occurred on a particular piece of real estate! I know of at least three places in Santa Rosa, Ca. where murders occurred that are still open. The part that makes it “creepy” is KNOWING about it! The most dangerous place you can go to is a gas/convenience store: criminals need gas and snacks too!

    • I am wondering. maybe he has a storage place somewhere where he has other evidence hidden of other rapes n murders.

  • Why was this man not given the death penalty …..? Even the death penalty is to good for him, he should not be alive for the evil sick crimes he’s committed.

    • The death penalty has been outlawed completely in Michigan since 1963 and was abolished in 1847 for all crimes except treason.

  • With flight attendants traveling alone this story is just letting them know what can happen to them I’m sorry for what happened to this attendant this really should have made the hotel have better security and cameras for their establishment they want to be paid for their services so they should provide security for their guests especially women who travel alone

  • With flight attendants traveling alone this story is just letting them know what can happen to them I’m sorry for what happened to this attendant this really should have made the hotel have better security and cameras for their establishment they want to be paid for their services so they should provide security for their guests especially women who travel alone

  • The murder was completely preventable had the Police done their job.. An identifiable bloody thumbprint was found in Margarete Eby’s bathroom. The police never conducted interviews or fingerprinting of the work crews who serviced her home. Had they done so Gorton would have been caught earlier. Gorton + Navy enlistment means FBI prints on file means thumbprint identification = arrest.. Simple, what ?
    In some states, this gross neglect could be prosecuted criminally as a failure to perform an official duty. This issue has been continually covered up since by the “Blood Justice” book author, the Police and the media since Nancy’s murder.

  • I stayed in that hotel as a crash pad. The room was the last one on the right. It was right next to the exit door that had a small window in it. The theory at the time was that he was waiting in the exit and as soon as she opened the door he jumped her. She never had a chance.
    As a flight attendant I also did the room check with the door propped open. I learned a lesson when my husband had come to meet me on a trip and hid in the bathroom. As I was checking under the bed ,he jumped out and scared me to death! Last time I did that or he did as I was so very angry and scared.
    They made a storage room out of her room.

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