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Motel From 'hell': Victims, police call for action against crime hotspot in Adams County

Denver7 Investigates looks into what's preventing officials from shutting down problem motels
Primrose Motel
Abby Cozad
Primrose Motel Property
Posted at 9:45 PM, Dec 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-20 00:18:42-05

DENVER — Hundreds of calls for service a year, four deaths (including two homicides), multiple drug busts, and numerous arrests at a single location. Some call it the Primrose Motel on Federal Boulevard in Adams County. But for Larry and Julie Cozad, it is “hell on Earth.”

Their daughter, Abby Cozad, 31, was murdered at the Primrose Motel almost eight years ago, and records obtained by Denver7 Investigates show the motel continues to be a magnet for crime.

“It makes me really angry … knowing that other families are suffering the same fate that we're suffering,” Larry Cozad said.

Abby was beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted before she died at the motel in June of 2015.

“They stuff her in a love seat that was there — cut the cushions out, stuffed her in that.” Larry said of the night his daughter was killed.

Denver7 Investigates requested law enforcement records dating back to 2015, the year Abby died, which revealed hundreds of calls for police each year.

Adams County deputies have responded to 248 calls for service at the Primrose Motel so far this year. Deputies have responded to assaults, drugs and stolen cars.

Adams County Sheriff Rick Reigenborn told Denver7 Investigates the motel is a known hotspot for crime, and his deputies are working to curb violence at the motel.

“We're doing everything we can with the manpower that we have,” Reigenborn said. “But it still needs more work. It still needs more attention.”

Denver7 Investigates also obtained police-worn body camera footage at the motel, which tells a similar story. On Nov. 25, deputies were called to the motel and found a collection of bikes and possible drug paraphernalia inside one room before making an arrest.

Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Steffen Hileman works with the Special Enforcement Team, which targets high-crime areas like the Primrose. He says his team is called to the motel daily, and sometimes more than once per day.

“The crime is always coming and going out of there,” he said.

And while Hileman said he'd like to see the motel gone, Reignborn says there are challenges that prevent the sheriff’s office from doing more.

“We don't, as the sheriff's office, have the ability to shut them down. There are no ordinances in the county that would assist us in getting them shut down,” the sheriff said.

Other cities across the state do have ways to shut down problematic motels. Lakewood recently closed the Blue Sky Motel through the city’s licensing program after learning the West Colfax location had three times the number of police calls allowed by its law.

Aurora uses a Criminal Nuisance Property ordinance to mitigate its problem motels. The city recently used the ordinance at the Carriage Motor Inn. Aurora police said since owners of the inn entered a legal agreement to make improvements on the property, area crime has decreased by 60%.

Reigenborn says his deputies have made progress on the crime at the Primrose Motel and the surrounding area on Federal Boulevard. Despite that, he says more permanent change is needed and would require action from the county commissioners.

“I think it might be time that we take a look at getting an ordinance to address not just this motel, but a couple of other motels that we have that are less desirable,” he said.

The Cozads filed a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the Primrose Motel and its owners responsible shortly after Abby’s death. The lawsuit blamed employees and owners of the motel for looking the other way at a time, they say, their daughter needed help.

“There was an employee of that Primrose hotel who saw her alive and saw that she was in some kind of distress and did absolutely nothing,” Larry said.

Deputies say Abby’s killers wrapped her in plastic wrap the night she was killed. After checking into the Primrose using Abby’s ID, the motel’s maintenance manager testified he saw Abby “having difficulty walking with the plastic wrap around her,” according to the lawsuit. The manager also testified that he didn’t notify police of the seemingly suspicious scene because it was “just another day at the Primrose.”

Emiliano Urioste
Emiliano Urioste
Teresa Dean
Teresa Dean

The killers, Emiliano Urioste and Teresa Dean, were charged and convicted in Abby's murder. Urioste was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Dean took a plea deal and was sentenced to 32 years.

Deputies tell Denver7 Investigates management at the Primrose Motel has started working with them to combat crime. The owners declined multiple requests for comment.

The Cozads' wrongful death suit ended in a settlement with the motel owners for an undisclosed amount. But all these years later, Larry wants more done.

“It needs to be shut down. It needs to be bulldozed,” he said.