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Arrest warrant issued in '99 cold case killing

by Alex Madison

Roy Donovan Lacy
Roy Donovan Lacy  

A young, bisexual man was violently stabbed to death in his residential hotel room in Chinatown almost two decades ago with few clues, no suspect, and no arrest. Last week, after 19 years, an arrest warrant was issued for Roy Donovan Lacy in connection with the murder of Kameron Sengthavy, the Bay Area Reporter has learned.

Lacy, 38, is currently in custody in Florida serving nine years for a series of bank robberies committed in the state. Lacy, who has a lengthy criminal history, has robbed 13 banks throughout California and two in Florida.

He was convicted in 2016 in Marin County for three bank robberies he committed in 2012 and 2013 with his girlfriend, Michelle Marie Maxwell, in San Rafael and Novato.

During his sentencing at Marin County Superior Court, Lacy was given 105 years to life, a sentence he called, "insane," given he didn't injure anyone during the robberies, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

"I'm not a molester or a murderer," he said at the hearing.

Lacy is now being charged in two murders. After his Marin County sentencing, Lacy was transported back to Florida to serve out the remainder of his sentence. It was during this time that Dan Cunningham, San Francisco Police Department homicide inspector, gathered enough evidence to connect Lacy to two homicides committed in San Francisco: Sengthavy's in 1999 and the murder of a gas station attendant on June 1, 2000.

'Very good kid'
Sengthavy was 25 years old when he was killed on December 9, 1999. He was found lying in the third-floor hallway of the Alisa Hotel at 447 Bush Street, which today is the Hotel des Arts.

Police believe he was stabbed in his room and stumbled into the hallway where he collapsed, according to a 1999 San Francisco Chronicle article. Homicide Lieutenant David Robinson, now retired, was at the scene the day of his death and said there was no evidence that Sengthavy was robbed or that his room was ransacked.

"There were no screams. No cries for help. There was no noise heard by neighbors," Robinson said in the Chronicle article.

Cunningham called the murder a "brutal slaying," but did not provide further details of the killing or evidence against Lacy.

"He was a young guy. This never should have happened to him," Cunningham said. "I hope this can give some relief to his loved ones."

Sengthavy's second cousin, Jean Kamp, was asked to identify her cousin's body almost 20 years ago, a memory she described as "shocking."

"I don't know much, but I know his throat was slit," she said in a phone interview this week with the B.A.R. "He started hanging out with a new group of people, and it was the wrong place, wrong time kind of thing."

She described Sengthavy as a "very good kid" who didn't do drugs and was "nice and easygoing. He was a fun guy. Everyone liked to hang out with him."

He grew up in Montreal, Canada, with his parents, who are still together, and younger brother. He lived what Kamp called a "normal life."

After graduating high school, Sengthavy received a swimming scholarship to attend the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

The Office of the Registrar at the university confirmed Sengthavy was a student from August 1994 to the spring of 1997, but that he did not graduate. He majored in business management.

A talented swimmer, Sengthavy made many swimming records at the university. The butterfly was his stroke, said Kamp. It was in college where he began dating men and came out. Kamp said her cousin was bisexual.

After college he moved to San Francisco, where he felt more accepted and comfortable about his sexuality, Kamp said. She was not able to give Sengthavy's occupation, but said he loved to dance and was a big foodie.

The news of the recent arrest was a big relief for Kamp.

"This has been a long time coming," she said. "I was very happy to finally have closure and to know what happened during that time, that is was not a random act, but someone in his circle, and I am very happy to know he is in custody and coming back to San Francisco."

Kamp is a special assignment teacher in Long Beach, California, and has a daughter who swims.

Once Lacy is tried in San Francisco for the murders, he will return to Florida to finish out his nine-year sentence, then come back to Marin County and serve out his 105-year sentence. He also received a 71-year sentence in San Diego County.

Anyone who has any information regarding the case of Kameron Sengthavy can contact Dan Cunningham at (415) 553-9515.

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