‘There are more drug dealers than cops’: Addicted Towns of Pa.
By John Luciew
BUTLER, Pa. — The horror happened inside a Super 8 motel room on the edge of this once-proud manufacturing town that supplied Jeeps in World War II.
A young mother and her 4-year-old son were living there with her boyfriend, paying by the day.
It’s not unusual, according to the hotel’s long-time day manager, Anna LePore Conte.
“We saw the little boy,” recalled the 79-year-old, noting her sharp, observant eye. “I saw him a few times. Darling little boy. Sweet little boy. They’d come in the side door. I’d see them pass through.”
By all outward appearances, nothing seemed amiss in the two weeks or so the family stayed at the discount hotel. Times are tough here, despite the fact that the Super 8 is within view of the working remnants of Butler’s once-thriving steel plant.
The mill, like this western Pennsylvania town, is but a shell of itself.
The manufacturing base has been hollowed out from its hard-working heyday, when high school grads could comfortably raise families.
Now, it’s not uncommon for families to take up residence in cut-rate hotels.
As for the heroin and/or fentanyl traces and drug paraphernalia allegedly found inside the couple’s hotel room, Conte said the hotel staff never saw any signs of that. But even this wasn’t all that surprising.
“All hotels have that problem,” Conte said of rampant illegal drug use, much of it opioids.
“When there’s drugs, we call police,” she added. “And we share information with the police about who is staying here for the night. We give all the cops whatever we can. But we don’t have the right to check people’s rooms. And it’s everywhere.”
This time, a little boy would die a horrible death as a result.
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