Saratoga County

Saratoga police say 2002 hotel murder solved

Authorities say they have finally solved the 2002 fatal shooting of a New Jersey man at a downtown h
Roger Aletras
Roger Aletras

Categories: Schenectady County

Authorities say they have finally solved the 2002 fatal shooting of a New Jersey man at a downtown hotel with the arrest of a New York City man already serving time in a federal prison.

Roger K. Aletras, 36, of the Bronx, has been charged by a federal grand jury in Burlington, Vt., with the slaying of 25-year-old Kevin D. Arkenau.

The U.S. attorney general can decide whether to seek the death penalty against Aletras, who, if convicted, could face up to life in prison. The Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont said in a press release Wednesday that the attorney general is not expected to make that decision for several months.

Aletras is now serving a sentence in a federal prison for an unrelated crime.

Saratoga Springs murder indictment

To view the full federal indictment of Roger Aletras in the 2002 murder of Kevin Arkenau at the former Sheraton Hotel in Saratoga Springs, click here.

Authorities said Wednesday that Aletras and Arkenau traveled from New York City to Vermont to commit an armed robbery on Dec. 16, 2002, in a South Burlington hotel, allegedly stealing 50 pounds of marijuana worth about $125,000 and a vehicle from two people in South Burlington.

Police would not say whether the marijuana was recovered during the investigation.

At 12:30 a.m. on their way back to New York City, the two checked in under Arkenau’s name at the former Sheraton Hotel in Saratoga Springs, where the Saratoga Hotel is now.

A hotel maid checking on the room’s occupants to see if they had left the next afternoon found Arkenau’s body. Authorities at the time said he died from two gunshot wounds to the head shortly before his body was found.

Hotel guests reported no disturbances from the third-floor room.

Aletras was indicted on five federal counts this week: possession with intent to distribute marijuana, traveling from New York to Vermont to commit armed robbery, using a firearm in a drug trafficking crime and a crime of violence, using a firearm to commit murder, and having a firearm after having seven previous convictions.

Saratoga Springs police worked with several other agencies in three states to investigate the shooting, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, state police and South Burlington City Police.

Authorities soon linked Arkenau to the alleged armed robbery in Vermont and worked to identify his companion during that incident. Police identified Aletras in early 2003, Saratoga Springs Police Chief Edward Moore said during a news conference Wednesday.

In the meantime, Aletras was charged in February 2003 with an unrelated federal firearms charge in the Southern District of New York. He has remained in police custody since then and is now serving a 19-year sentence at Schuylkill federal prison in Minersville, Pa.

He also has previous felony convictions for burglary, grand larceny and possession of stolen property.

Since 2003, authorities have been building their case against Aletras and presenting it to the grand jury, Moore said.

Moore commended the investigators who worked on the case. “These individuals did a phenomenal job in one of the most violent homicides that this city has seen in decades.”

At 25, Arkenau had already racked up a criminal record, including drug trafficking and marijuana charges.

He was arrested in New York City in 1997 when he was 19 and extradited to New Jersey, where he was wanted on drug distribution charges in Monmouth County. He spent 10 months in jail for those crimes.

He also was arrested in Denver, Colo., in 1996 while allegedly attempting to transport 32 pounds of marijuana on a bus to the New Jersey shore.

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