Murder in the second degree at Econo Lodge
A parolee with a history of violent felony charges and 14 prior arrests is in Nassau County Jail, accused of second-degree murder in a Nov. 19 homicide at the Econo Lodge in Hicksville.
Vincent Dalton, 51, formerly of Ridge, was charged with killing Erik O’Connell, 37, of East Meadow, according to Nassau County Police Department Det. Capt. John Azzatta, commanding officer of the Homicide Squad.
“We do believe the two individuals were only acquaintances, and could have known each other for less than 24 hours,” Azzattta said at a press briefing on Nov. 23. “We have no motive at this time.”
Azzatta related that a housekeeper at the hotel, located at 429 Duffy Ave., discovered the body when she used an access key to open room 118 after repeatedly knocking and getting no answer. She informed the manager, who called 911 after checking the room. Azzatta said that the housekeeper “observed what she believed to be a large quantity of blood.”
The medical examiners’s office determined that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head, and no weapon has been recovered as of the briefing, according to Azzatta. He declined to answer a question as to whether the victim was hog tied—as the felony complaint and a report on NBC News stated.
Azzatta revealed Dalton’s criminal history, including 10 prior felonies, eight of which were violent felonies (including first-degree burglary, during which a gun is used). Dalton is on parole until June 2018.
NBC News also quoted Dalton’s court-appointed attorney—Eugene McElroy of Mineola—stating that his client is homeless and was not taking his psychiatric medication.
Asked if O’Connell and Azzattta were drinking together at a bar, Azzattta responded, “It’s very possible that they were drinking. I must say that the detectives got great cooperation from the business community in that area, and that’s how we were able to ID the suspect.”
The two went to the hotel together, and asked if it was a sexual encounter, Azzatta answered, “I can’t get into that right now. That’s still under investigation and if there is some kind of sexual crime, that will be charged later on by the district attorney.”
“Did people [in adjoining rooms] hear anything?” Azzatta was asked.
They had not, affirmed Azzatta, adding, “We’re still looking for several other guests at the hotel at the time.”
As the briefing wound down, Azzatta was asked, “Do you believe that they met in the bar, or knew each other prior to the bar?”
“I’m not going to explain to you where they met. It wasn’t at the bar,” he responded.
Dalton was arrested in West Islip on Nov. 22 and arraigned on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at First District Court, Hempstead.