GREENWOOD – The family of a New Palestine mother are demanding change after the mother was found dead at the Greenwood hotel she ran.
Dana Smith, 37, died Aug. 24 at the Red Carpet Inn and Fanta Suites, 1117 E Main St., Greenwood.
The cause of death has not been released, but Smith’s family says the hotel should be closed.
Smith was the operations manager at the hotel.
“She was very happy,” Smith’s sister, Kristine Auclerc, said. “She was always happy, always smiling.”
Dana Smith, a mother of two, had only worked at the hotel for a few months when she was found dead in a hotel room, according to Auclerc, who lives in Kentucky.
“She was just the nicest person,” Auclerc said. “She had such a good heart. She loved everyone, accepting everyone for who they were.”
Dana Smith’s family want to know what happened to her.
“We went to the police department the next day to try to get some answers, and they said it was under investigation,” Auclerc said.
Police calls to the hotel are increasing.
GREENWOOD POLICE RESPONSE TO RED CARPET INN
- 2019—75 appeals, 20 criminal offenses
- 2020- 109 appeals, 14 criminal offenses
- 2021- 165 appeals, 35 criminal offenses
- 2022 (01/01 to 09/08) – 119 appeals, 31 criminal offenses
PREVIOUS | Greenwood man avoids prosecution after ‘frightening’ hotel encounter
“The calls are mostly drug-related, but you also get robberies, fights, stabbings, shootings and overdoses,” Greenwood Police Department Deputy Chief Matt Fillenwarth said. “It was a nuisance for a while.”
Last year alone, records show overdose deaths on April 23, April 26 and September 9.
Dana Smith’s family is calling on the town of Greenwood to take action.
“It’s awful,” Auclerc said. “It’s a black hole. Close it. Get rid of it.”
The city ordinance currently states that a hotel’s license may be probated if the service call ratio is equal to or greater than two calls per room per year.
The Red Carpet Inn and Fanta Suites has yet to reach this level.
“It just hasn’t reached that threshold on our prescription where we can completely stop them from working,” Fillenwarth said.
WRTV Investigates asked the Greenwood Common Council what they were doing about it, and President Mike Campbell agreed to talk to us.
WRTV: What do you say to people who say, shut this place down?
Campbell: Legally, we cannot. it is a private company.
WRTV: How long has the Red Carpet Inn been a problem?
Campbell: It seems like an eternity. It has gotten worse in recent years.
WRTV: Does the order itself need to be changed?
Campbell: I think so. The only part of the prescription that could be changed is the ratio. We could reduce the ratio, but then we would run into the possibility of lawsuits. It might seem like targeting, like we’re choosing a hotel, and we just have to be very careful about it.
Campbell points out that even if a business meets the threshold for police calls, the city must take additional steps before a license can be revoked, including allowing the business to receive training.
Campbell: If it doesn’t improve, the chief of police could recommend that the license not be renewed, and then it goes to the Public Works Board who manages that process, and they have to hold a public hearing. It’s more difficult than saying that we can no longer operate.
WRTV: Do you agree that something needs to be done?
Campbell: Yes yes. It is a permanent problem. We know something has to be done.
WRTV Investigates did some checking and found that the hotel was registered with the state as “Lodging & Trade LLC” and the general manager was listed as Ahmed Mubarak.
We have contacted via email to arrange an interview, but the hotel has not yet agreed to meet with us.
WRTV Investigates stopped by the hotel on April 20.
As we moved forward, an employee encountered WRTV Investigates outside.
WRTV asked to speak to the general manager and left the employee a business card, but she said no one would speak with WRTV.
As Dana Smith’s family mourns, city leaders say they do too.
“It’s awful what happened,” Campbell said. “Our thoughts are with the family.”
Dana Smith’s sister hopes her death will bring about meaningful change that will keep the community safe.
“If we couldn’t save her, maybe we can save someone else,” Auclerc said.
Greenwood Police say they are doing what they can to protect the public by carrying out saturation patrols in and around the hotel.
“You can’t do this aggressive patrol every day,” Fillenwarth said. “Every time we do that, we end up with a huge amount of guns, drugs and arrests for a night’s work.”
HOTEL SAFETY TIPS
- Find out about the hotel before you book
- Know where the emergency exits are
- Lock up your valuables
- Do not share your room number with anyone
- Leave the TV on in your bedroom with the Do Not Disturb sign
- Trust your instincts