John Hinckley Jr.

FILE - In this March 30, 1981, file photo, Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, foreground, Washington policeman Thomas K. Delehanty, center, and presidential press secretary James Brady, background, lie wounded on a street outside a Washington hotel after shots were fired at U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Lawyers for John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate Reagan, are scheduled to argue in court Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, that the 66-year-old should be freed from restrictions placed on him after he moved out of a Washington hospital in 2016.

John Hinckley Jr. spent 16 days on Colfax Avenue in a Lakewood motel in March 1981 before he left the Denver area unexpectedly with plans to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Hinckley stayed in Room 29 as he plotted the crime, even asking people if they knew Jodie Foster.

"He talked to us all of the time, and bought us Dr Peppers," said Kathy Lee, who was 8 years old when she had interactions with Hinckley.

Lee's parents owned the Golden Hours Motel at 11080 W. Colfax Ave.

"He always asked us what our favorite movies were. We didn't know Jodie Foster. My mom said he took his stuff and left one day without checking out and the next thing I knew, he was on the news. I said 'Hey that's the guy who was staying in the motel!'" Lee said.

Lee is now a Denver-area radio personality, a co-host on the Rick Lewis Morning Show on 103.5 FM. Lee says she remembers that Hinckley's parents paid his hotel rent.

"I remember the FBI were all over the motel after he tried to assassinate President Reagan," she said.

Lee's parents testified at the 1982 federal trial, Lee said, answering questions about the young man's character. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. 

Hinckley, 66, has been living alone since his mother, JoAnn Moore, died in July. His father, John "Jack" Hinckley Sr., died in 2008. The couple moved from Colorado to Virginia to be closer to their son as he went through rehabilitation.

The Hinckleys' move to Colorado in 1973 was a business decision. Jack Hinckley relocated his oil business, Vanderbilt Energy Corp., and the couple bought a home in Evergreen.

John Jr. had graduated from high school in Dallas a year earlier and did not join his parents right away, as he was attending college at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Hinckley Jr., the youngest of three children, eventually joined his parents in Colorado and lived for a stint in Los Angeles where he tried his hand at being a musician. 

In March 1981, Hinckley checked into the Golden Hours where, according to the FBI, he plotted Reagan's assassination. On March 23, Lee said Hinckley disappeared, owing her parents around $53 in rent, met his mom at the Denver airport and flew to Salt Lake City where he connected on a flight to Los Angeles. From there, he took a three-day bus trip to Washington, D.C. 

Lee doesn't know if Hinckley left any important evidence behind when he left Room 29 but she does know one thing. She doesn't think he should be given any more freedoms than he already has.

"It's scary to think about the planning it took to hurt people," Lee told The Denver Gazette. "He tried it once, who's to say he won't try it again?"