Looking for a way out
New London ― Darlene Kripps, with her history of escaping bad situations, can’t extricate herself from the Red Roof Inn.
It was almost 20 years ago that she made the news after walking away from York Correctional Institution while serving a three-year sentence for burglary. Police at the time said she was discovered in the woods of Rhode Island with a rifle, according to The Day archives.
“I was blond-hair and blue-eyed going into prison and I really had to toughen up,” she said from the second floor balcony of the motel. “I think that it works living here.”
Kripps moved to the Red Roof Inn more than a year ago after being evicted from her apartment in Norwich for not paying rent. Support from a pandemic-related rental assistance program to cover her $1,000-per-month rent got her through some tight spots, but it didn’t get her caught up. Now she’s being evicted again.
Kripps credited the methadone clinic she attends in Westerly, RI, with trying to help her find other housing, but added they cannot provide financial assistance to augment the $841 per month she gets in disability benefits.
She shares the room with her grown son but said his child, who used to live with them, can’t visit because it’s not safe.
“We honestly need someone to give us a boost and get us into a place and give us the opportunity to pay our bills and live in an apartment with my dog and our grandson like normal people do,” she said.
Kripps, 58, recounted growing up nearby in a pink house. But as an adult, she said she’s been surrounded by foreclosures.
“It’s like our whole family is homeless, trying to figure out ways with limited income to get through and just be stable,” she said. “That’s all we really want. Not this. I didn’t want to come back to this.”
As someone in recovery from addiction, she said the atmosphere at the motel is not conducive to sobriety.
“We’ve seen some people die here,” Kripps said of the motel. “We’ve seen raids. People kicking in the doors, saving somebody that was sick in a room.”
There was one body that lay rotting for hours before being discovered, she said. Then there was the biohazard crew that came for the man who “exploded in the room across the way.”
City dispatch logs for a one-year period starting last June show police responded to three dead bodies and one fatal overdose at the motel.
Kripps described owners who fail to clean up after their pets, which is a problem in neighborhoods everywhere. But even complaints about dog poop take on a new dimension at the Red Roof Inn.
“We’re picking it up, we’re stepping in it,” Kripps said. “And some of it, is it human? I don’t know, maybe it is. I’m telling you, it’s too much.”