COLUMBIA - Providence Inn and Suites, scene a teenager's death in April, is closing its doors Thursday, at least for now.
According to the 911 Call Center, there were 358 emergency calls made from the motel in 2013. Within the last three months, police officers from the Columbia Police Department have been dispatched to the motel 45 times. Records showed that police were at the motel nearly every other day.
Columbia Police Department Sgt. Joe Bernhard said the large number of calls tells him the motel was in a state of decline.
KOMU 8 News found the most frequent calls were for civil matters such arguments over money (including room rates), disturbances, larceny, and traffic stops. Police responded numerous times to check on 911 calls that ended with the caller hanging up without speaking (known as a 911 check).
Below is a timeline of all the dates and the types of call police responded to from February 18 to April 10. (Continue with story.)
Bernard said this is a pattern for many of the disturbance calls the department receives.
"By the time the police officers get there everybody is gone from the disturbance, so in a lot of those cases we don't know really what happened."
The announcement to close the motel came after 16-year-old Morgan Myers was found dead in a room earlier in April. Police are still investigating her death as a homicide.
Nearby employees said they are glad to see the motel close.
Lauren Bianco, a Farmers Insurance employee, said she used to see police at the motel at least two or three times a week.
"It is a little scary sometimes if I am alone in the office. Bianco said. "It can be scary being a female and alone."
The motel has had issues for years, but Ethan White, a longtime resident, said the problems typically came from single-visit guests.
"These were people that stayed for a day or two, but they never got a call from long term residents as far as disturbance or what not, but we are paying the price of eviction because of people that don't even live here," White said.
Reviews on Trip Advisor, a travel website providing directory information and reviews of travel-related content, show guests mainly rating the motel one out of five stars.
A reviewer identified as Lynnette D. of Illinois wrote, "Do not book this hotel, it was like living in a drug infested projects on TV. People were outside your room making noise, running back and forth outside your room. The door gaps had roaches, the room was malodorous. They give you no towels to use. The door top lock was taken off, you were afraid to leave. You have to leave the bathroom fan on to drown out the noise."
The review goes on to say it was "Just horrible, I would not send my worse enemy here! Next time, if this is my only option, I'll stay in my car."
Another guest who wishes to remain anonymous wrote, "This may be in the top 10 worst hotels in the world. Web pictures very different then real hotel. Where do we begin?"
It continues: "Live in guests, low income, room was nasty, microwave was dirty inside, and shower looked like it had not been cleaned in weeks. From walls to carpet place was dirty. We left after 10 minutes. Called the corporate office, did get refund check because we had proof. Itchy just thinking about it."
KOMU 8 News tried numerous times to contact motel management, but every time we called staff told us no manager was available. When we asked for a specific time a manager would be in, the employee said 8 a.m. However, when we called the next morning, no one answered.
The Boone County Assessors website lists Gayle Lampson as the property owner. The only contact information was a P.O. Box, and when KOMU 8 News called the assessors' office, the clerk said it was the only information on file.
According to the records on the site, Lampson last paid taxes on the property in December 2013. The bill shows Lampson paid $19,287.09 to the following entities:
- Boone County
- Columbia School
- Columbia Library
- Common Road
The investigation of Myers' death is ongoing, and CPD has turned it over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Former motel employees said they were told the city will do an inspection of the property on Friday. Employees also said they were told there could possibly be a new owner, if a proposed contract is approved.