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Long IslandCrime

Hicksville motel murder suspect was on parole, police say

The Nassau police investigation into the discovery of a slain East Meadow man in a motel room led to the arrest of a Ridge man and the suspect is scheduled to be arraigned on a murder charge, authorities said on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. Credit: Jim Staubitser

The Ridge man charged with fatally beating a 37-year-old East Meadow man in a Hicksville motel was on parole at the time and may have only known his victim for less than 24 hours, Nassau police said Wednesday.

Det. Capt. John Azzata, commanding officer of the department’s homicide squad, said the two men had likely been drinking at a bar before they both “willingly went” to the Econo Lodge together and had met just prior to the bar excursion.

Vincent J. Dalton, 51, on parole until July 2018, has been arrested 14 times previously — 10 of those instances were felony arrests, including a first-degree burglary charge, Azzata said.

Dalton was arrested Tuesday and charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Erik O’Connell, 37, whose body was found Saturday in a motel room.

According to a criminal complaint, O’Connell was struck “numerous times about the head with an unknown object” and died from blunt force trauma. O’Connell was found face down on the floor in a “hog-tied position,” the complaint said.

“We don’t have a motive at this point,” said Azzata. “We do know, or we believe, that the two individuals were only acquaintances. They could have known each other for less than 24 hours.”

Azzata said a member of the Duffy Avenue hotel’s cleaning staff knocked on the door of Room 118 at about 1 p.m. Saturday and no one answered. She knocked several more times before entering the room with her key swipe and saw a large amount of blood and a body.

She alerted the manager and he came to the room and also saw the body and called 911, he said. O’Connell was pronounced dead at the scene about 1:30 p.m., Azzata said.

Azzata said motel guests who had been interviewed didn’t hear any screams coming from the room, but detectives are still seeking to talk to other people who were staying at the hotel at the time.

“I must say that the detectives got great cooperation from the business community in that area and that’s how we were able to identify the subject,” Azzata said.

At arraignment Wednesday in First District Court in Hempstead, Dalton’s court-appointed attorney, Eugene McElroy, said his client is homeless and told police he was off his psychiatric medication.

“He told them he could possibly kill himself,” McElroy, of Mineola, said after the arraignment. “He needs immediate medical attention because he didn’t have his meds.”

Nassau District Court Judge David McAndrews ordered the jail to provide Dalton with medical attention, as requested by his defense attorney.

Attempts to reach O’Connell’s family were unsuccessful, and the motel manager declined to comment.


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