Crime at the Motorama Motel, Part Two
Part Two of a Three-Part Series
(Crystal A. Proxmire)
Ferndale, MI – How common is crime at the Motorama? This question comes up from time to time as the public hears about the most serious of cases, including a heroin-related death earlier this year.
On April 20, 2015 a man bought heroin from someone staying at the Motorama, and ended up dying on a front lawn on Fielding Street. The death led to an investigation uncovering a major drug operation through the Metro Detroit area, including drug sales at the Motorama. Earlier this month 25-year-old Shanna Nicole Santori of Detroit was captured in another state and subsequently charged with delivery of a controlled substance causing death.
Neighbors suspected that this was not an isolated incident.
The Motorama is a two-story motel on the corner of 8 Mile and Woodward in Ferndale. According to police records there were 81 calls for service in 2013, including 17 incidents that required police reports. Among those calls for service were 4 death investigations labeled “cause unknown” and one drug overdose. Many of the calls are simply “customer trouble,” or no reason given at all.
In 2014 there were 87 calls for service and 15 police reports. The numbers for 2015 are still coming in.
The stack of police reports, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, give insight into some of what happens in and around the motel.
The following summaries are taken from initial police reports, and rely solely on the officers’ documentation of what they found and statements given at the scene. All subjects are innocent until proven guilty, and further research would be needed to determine the outcome of each incident.
A list of incidents from 2013 was chronicled in our previous article.
According to the reports, the following took place in 2014….
On Jan. 2, 2014, officers were called to room 223 for a domestic violence situation. A woman had left the scene but was pulled over nearby in Detroit with her 3 year old son in the car. “I noticed she had several bumps on her forehead, her right eye was bloodshot/watery and there was swelling above and below her right eye,” the officer wrote in their report. The victim told the officer that a fight had started over a text message, and that her boyfriend had choked her and punched her. The woman, who was pregnant with a child by the boyfriend, took their son and tried to flee. The couple had been together four or five years. “She ran outside and down stairs to the minivan where she put her son inside. She yelled for anyone to call the police,” the report stated. The man followed her and continued assaulting her in the vehicle before jumping out. The man was arrested and charged with domestic violence.
On Jan. 30, 2014, a man with a broken taillight pulled into the Motorama. An officer approached him as he was exiting the vehicle and asked him about the taillight. During questioning the officer noticed drugs in the open in the suspect’s door. Eight baggies of crack cocaine were confiscated and the man was arrested. It was also determined that the suspect was on parole for assault for assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and he had a valid warrant out of Detroit for assault.
On April 4, 2014, the manager on duty contacted police because a woman had kicked in the door to room 204. The woman had tried to get a key to the room, but the manager had refused because she was not listed as a guest on the registration. The woman kicked in the door, causing obvious damage. The woman had been staying in the room with her child’s father. The child was in the hospital. The woman told police she had gotten in a fight with the father and come back without him to get items out of the room for their daughter. When police spoke to the father, he told them that she was indeed a guest. Police let the woman go, but advised her that a warrant for her arrest might be issued later. Police advised the manager to get an estimate for the damages.
On April 12, 2014, Ferndale Police were dispatched to the Motorama on a report of an unresponsive man lying in the parking lot. According to the officer’s report the man “was very difficult to understand and admitted to consuming alcoholic beverages and marijuana on this date.” He told police he had fallen over while trying to fix the chain on his bicycle. Ferndale Fire and Royal Oak Rescue arrived on the scene to provide medical treatment and Royal Oak Rescue transported him to the hospital for additional treatment.
On April 13, 2014, the police received a call that someone had seen a dead body in room 111. When police arrived there was no dead body. However, the occupant of the room was found to have outstanding warrants in Oak Park and Southfield. The Oak Park warrant was confirmed and the man was arrested and transported to the Oak Park Police Department.
On May 9, 2014, a couple staying in room 205 had an argument that resulted in the woman calling police stating that the father of her children stole her car with their two children inside. Police say the woman changed her story three times during the interview. The hotel manager said that the couple had been consuming intoxicants in the parking lot and that they had frequent fights. He shared surveillance footage which showed the woman with her hands on the vehicle, trying to stop him from driving away. The vehicle was entered into the LEIN system as stolen.
On June 18, 2014, the manager of Motorama called the police saying someone in room 105 was reportedly dying. Police arrived to find the female suspect pounding on the window to the room. When police came the man inside opened the door. He had a bloody towel around his left forearm. The man was yelling and telling police to “get that bitch away from me.” The man showed one of the officers a half-inch wound on his forearm, but then refused to cooperate or give his name. Two women showed up. One of them said she was the victim’s mother and identified him. The women had gotten a call that the victim was hurt and had come to help him. Both refused to complete a statement. Ferndale Fire treated the victim on the scene. He refused to complete a statement and refused to let officers photograph his injury. He also refused to go to the hospital. The woman was arrested. The officer said she smelled of intoxicants, and that she told officers she did not stab the victim, but that she had “sliced” him.
On June 29, 2014, a man woke up to find his cell phone, wallet (including $500), passport and keys missing. The man met a person and checked into the room with them. They drank and fell asleep and when he woke up the person and the items were gone. Further details about the meeting were redacted from the report. The car was entered into the LEIN system as stolen.
On July 2, 2014, an officer did a traffic stop on a woman at the motel and determined that she had a warrant from the Lansing Tether Unit. The woman was arrested on the warrant.
On July 26, 2014, the manager of Motorama called police to do a welfare check on the guest in room 105. The man had been in the room since July 4, and had last been seen July 21. Police arrived to find the guest obviously deceased. Oakland County Medical Examiner determined the death to be of a heart attack.
On July 31, 2014, someone called Detroit Police to report a possible drug overdose in room 216. Detroit dispatch contacted Ferndale dispatch, and officers arrived to find a man unconscious and the room containing “obvious signs of drug use.” Ferndale Rescue arrived and administered Narcan, which made the man open his eyes, though he was never responsive to officers or rescue workers. He was transported to the hospital and it is not in the report if the man lived or died. Motel staff reported that the victim had checked in with two homeless people, one male and one female. There was a bra found in the room and signs that someone had taken a shower, though the victim himself was not wet. The homeless female had returned the key and the remote to the front desk and checked out prior to the call.
On Sept. 21, 2014, a man reported that another man he stayed the night with in room 217 stole his cell phone and $50.
On Nov. 3, 2014, police responded to a domestic violence situation in room 220. They arrived to find a man intoxicated and incapacitated from having been pepper sprayed. A woman was helping him, while another woman and man were attempting to leave. The man had been trying to restrain his girlfriend to keep her from leaving him, and his girlfriend pepper sprayed him to get free. The man was arrested for domestic assault.
On Dec. 3, 2014, a man was found dead in room 213 from an apparent drug overdose. The man’s wife told police she had kicked him out of the home several months prior because of a heroin problem. The man had been staying at Motorama and had been found with a cardboard sign used for begging. The man was found fully dressed with his boots on, deceased on the floor in the entranceway to the bathroom. There was bruising to his left eye and clear liquid pooled his left ear. It appeared he had urinated on himself. There were possible needle marks on his left arm, and a torn open baggie found in the toilet. Another torn baggie was found in the trash can. There was also vodka in the room along with Seroquel and Benzitropine, a needle and a razor blade. Someone from the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s office came to do the investigation and autopsy.
On Dec. 30, 2014, Ferndale Police went with officers from the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team to search room 206 based on suspected drug activity. They seized two grams of marijuana and a bag containing 9 pills of Alprazolam. The report relates to the tagging of these items as evidence and their storage by Ferndale Police, and it is unclear by the report if NET obtained any other items or made any arrests.
These summaries are based off the police reports taken at the time.
Reports from 2013 were chronicled in our previous story at https://oaklandcounty115.com/2015/11/29/crime-at-the-motorama-motel-part-one/.
Reports from 2015 will be shared in a future oc115 article.
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