Any traveler in search of a hotel has an unspoken checklist before agreeing to stay the night. They need to make sure the price is fair and the linens are clean, of course. It’s also important to know if the hotel is located in a safe neighborhood. At the end of the day, all anyone wants is to relax and know they’re taken care of.
For several decades, guests of the quaint Manor House Motel in Aurora, Colorado, were always offered the best possible hospitality. While it wasn’t anything fancy, most guests would stay for a day or two and be back on the road in the morning, no worse for the wear. That is, until a horrifying secret about the motel’s owner was revealed…
There are many things people want when staying at a hotel: a fair price, a safe space to lay their head, a clean room. These were all things Manor House Motel owner, Gerald Foos, guaranteed when guests stayed at his humble roadside lodge in Aurora, Colorado.
But Foos had a dirty secret, and it wasn’t revealed until 1980 when he penned a letter to author and reporter Gay Talese. Talese was writing Thy Neighbor’s Wife, which explored the American sexual revolution. In his letter, the motel owner claimed to have information that the reporter might be able to use…
Though he was initially skeptical of Foos’s claim, Talese eventually found an opportunity to use this information. In an article published years later, the dark secrets about the seemingly normal motel owner were revealed to the world…
Following their first meeting, Foos allowed his story to be told—and it was a doozy. Though he seemed like an average guy, he was anything but, and Talese was sure to let his readers know.
Talese was given his glimpse into this mystery after he first visited the Colorado motel. Foos invited him up to the motel’s attic, which he called his “laboratory.” There, the reporter learned the details of the motel owner’s sordid secrets.
Foos was a voyeur, he told Talese, and he’d been spying on his guests since he’d opened the motel using fake vents he’d placed in the room ceilings. In one instance, the two men watched a couple on a ski trip engage in intercourse. “I saw a naked couple spread out on the bed below,” Talese later wrote in a story for The New York Times.
The following morning, Foos presented Talese with a stack of yellow legal pads. These papers, he claimed, were essential to understanding exactly why he’d been spying on his guests for so many years.
“I would be up on the platform every night until dawn. It was quite tiring up there,” Foos explained of his eerie secret. “Then I would write as soon as I got down. [I] wanted to do it while it was fresh in my mind.”
And so “The Voyeur’s Journal,” which contained 15 years’ worth of ill-begot notes, was written. Despite his actions, Foos insisted that he never saw himself as a peeping Tom. “I didn’t start this purely for sexual pleasure—sure it was part of the deal, but I really wanted to find out what people were like in private,” he claimed.
In these notes, which dated back to 1973, Foos had written an annual report he claimed attempted to identify social and cultural trends. In it, he catalogued all sorts of intimate details of people’s lives.
For example, Foos had an affinity for categorizing his guests based on the strength of their libido. He claimed that 62 percent of people lived “moderately active sexual lives,” “12 percent of all observable couples at the hotel are highly sexed,” and that 22 percent had a low libido.
Foos’s notes, however, didn’t only detail guest’s sexual exploits, but other strange behaviors as well. In one instance, he claimed to have been a witness to an actual murder… which he never reported to authorities!
“I used to strike up conversations with people deliberately and they would seem so pleasant,” he stated. “Then behind closed doors, it was often the nice one that behaved the worst. People are liars and society is so corrupt,” he said—somewhat ironically, considering his own behavior.
Oddly, Talese never reported any of this to authorities, even though he’d been privy to all of the ongoings at the Manor House Motel. Instead, the two maintained a correspondence over the following years…
The reporter wasn’t the only person who knew about Foos’s horrifying voyeurism habits. Donna, Foos’s first wife, helped install the vents into the guest rooms. After she passed away in the 1980s, Foos married a woman named Anita, who also helped in the nefarious endeavor.
For his part, Foos said he found his wives’ willingness to participate in voyeurism strange. “Not many women are [voyeurs],” he once stated. “By contrast, all men are voyeurs, about 98 percent, anyway. The other two percent are liars.”
One question remained, though: why had the reporter waited so long to publish such an incendiary story? Turns out, Foos had made him sign a non-disclosure agreement when they first met. It maintained Talese’s silence until the statute of limitations on Foos’s alleged crimes expired.
When Talese finally published Foos’s story, titled “The Voyeur’s Hotel,” a number of people noticed holes in the story. For instance, one reporter discovered that Foos hadn’t owned the motel during a portion of the story. Soon, people began to wonder about the murder Foos claimed to have witnessed…
Authorities and the local coroner’s office had no record of such a crime happening during the time Foos’s made his claim. They also found it to be an odd thing to lie about, since Foos could have been charged as an accessory to murder.
Readers were confused about Foos’s motives for wanting his story published. Was it for fame or attention? One thing was certain, however: he violated thousands of innocent people over the years.
What a bizarre and eerie story. There’s no getting around it; Foos seriously violated the privacy of the very people who trusted him, and that is unforgivable!
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