URBANDALE, Iowa — On Monday, 33-year-old Latyia Johnson was arrested and charged with one count of child endangerment resulting in death after police were called to an extended stay motel in Urbandale on a report of a child not breathing on January 24th. The baby later died in the hospital.
Johnson’s criminal complaint says the baby was given two doses of Benadryl, which was too much for a child his size. Johnson was also spotted in another room at Motel Relax, but she told police she never left her son alone.
Police say the January call was one of more than 80 calls for service over the last six months.
“Anything from criminal action to medical issues, as well as reports of theft or some vandalism,” said Sergeant Chad Underwood with the Urbandale Police Department.
The most recent call for service was on April 2nd, 2018. Police records show officers responded to an unwanted person who may have been on drugs. The previous day–April 1st–police were called to the location to help the Animal Rescue League on reports of animal cruelty.
Police say Motel Relax is a high-traffic area.
“We do find the more proactive we are going through the lot, the better off we are of getting informed of crimes out there,” Sergeant Underwood said.
Crime at the motel has a long history dating back to 2012, when it was the site of a protest. Family and friends of man who died while staying at the motel gathered to urge the city and business owner to try preventing future criminal activity at the establishment.
“The police reports show domestic fights, gunshots, deaths, crack pipes being found in the beds, many different problems they come here,” said the victim’s sister in 2012.
Police say the increase in calls for service is due, in part, to increased patrols in the area.
“We will continue working with them. We do a lot of things with community relations and have a couple officers who patrol and know everyone in that motel,” Sergeant Underwood said.
Channel 13 was unable to track down the owner, Jill Mollison, or her attorney for comment. However, a reported did speak to the mayor of Urbandale to see if there are plans to shut down the motel. The mayor said there are currently no plans, but officials will continue to work with the owner and city police.