Riverside motel — the scene of last week’s homicide — is a magnet for crime

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Budget Host Inn in Riverside.

The arrest of Douglas Rico in connection with the death of 53-year-old Henrietta Sholl at the Budget Host Inn in Riverside last week is just the latest in scores of busts that have been made at, or in connection with, the motel in recent years.

Records show Southampton Town Police officers were called to the Lake Avenue motel — near the Riverside traffic circle — 61 times in the last 12 months, a figure that does not include the number of times state police troopers responded to incidents there.

Even the day after Ms. Sholl was found dead in a bed at the motel, Southampton cops were called there for an unrelated incident.

A scan of recent police blotters shows the crimes range from petty thefts, to assaults, to more bizarre incidents.

In February 2009 a Pennsylvania man who was staying at the motel was arrested after he was found wandering nearby streets while naked and covered in blood. He was also found with crack in his motel room.

In March 2008 a man was arrested for being high in public after he entered the lobby and said, “They are trying to kill me,” according to police. A scuffle with the motel clerk ensued and the man was pushed out of the lobby. He then broke a pane of glass while trying to reach his hand inside to unlock the door.

Brad Bender, a Flanders resident who is running for a seat on the Southampton Town Board, pointed to the poor economy as the driving force behind crime at the motel. The Budget Host Inn has been a frequent stop for transients and even the county’s homeless sex offender population.

A night at the motel costs about $89 this week, according to its website.

“I don’t want to blame the motel,” he said. “I’m sure [the owners] are doing everything they can.”

He noted that the nearby state police barracks, located just across the street on Riverleigh Avenue, has done little to curb crime in the area.

But he did say he believes the Riverside area needs more of a police presence.

“It’s always been that this section of town is overlooked,” he said.

Homeless sex offenders, who currently stay in trailers at the nearby county jail, would also use the motel when the Suffolk County Department of Social Services offered nightly vouchers for room and board. The county has since discontinued the program. At least one sex offender is currently listed as living at the motel, according to the New York State Sex Offender Registry.

When asked how motel staff has coped with the problem of crime, a man answering the phone at the Budget Host Inn on Wednesday said all questions should be directed to the local authorities.

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