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Man Charged With Murder Of Prostitute At River North Hotel

Christopher Love (Chicago Police Department)

Christopher Love (Chicago Police Department)

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UPDATED 10/14/11 5:25 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – A Lincoln Park neighborhood man is charged with stabbing a prostitute to death this week at a boutique hotel in River North.

Christopher Love, 23, of the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue, is charged with one count of first-degree murder. He is also charged with soliciting a prostitute, police said Thursday night.

Love is scheduled to appear for a bond hearing later Friday.

Sarai Michaels, 31, was found shortly after midnight Tuesday with multiple stab wounds at the Hotel Felix at 111 W. Huron St. She was found in a room on the 12th and highest floor of the hotel, with a 7-inch knife lying near her body, police said.

An autopsy Tuesday found that she suffered multiple stab and incise wounds and her death was ruled a homicide, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Michaels was a former model and mother of five whose life had unraveled in recent years, her estranged husband Stephen Michaels told the Chicago Sun-Times via phone from his Minneapolis home.

She had traveled to Chicago with two Minnesota women, likely to work as prostitutes, he said as he fought back tears.

Originally from Minneapolis, Sarai Michaels had modeled for catalogues and in a 7-Up advertisement before she gave birth to her oldest daughter 10 years ago, he added.

She bore him a son two years later, but when their marriage collapsed, she fell in with a bad man who beat her and “led her down the wrong path,” he said.

Court records show she was arrested for prostitution in St. Louis in 2004.

She had three more children, moved to La Crosse, Wis., and worked as a waitress, but had all five children taken away by the state earlier this year, her husband said. Court records show she was the victim of a domestic assault at the hands of the father of her younger three children. She was also charged with neglecting a child after a DUI stop in September last year.

Hotel Felix general manager George Jordan said the hotel staff called 911 after Michaels was stabbed, but police were already on their way.

“This does not appear to be a random event, and I want to stress that. Apparently, these people knew each other,” Jordan said, “and we are of course very saddened by this. Our heart goes out to the victim’s family.”

Hotel guests and neighbors were shocked by the gruesome act Tuesday morning.

“I’m surprised – that’s about it,” said guest John Wong, who said he had heard about the incident on the news.

“It’s pretty upscale; a nice neighborhood too, so I can’t believe that would happen,” said River North resident Bennett Dilly.

“It’s kind of shocking, like, it’s a little nervous knowing that something happened at the hotel you’re staying at,” said hotel guest Sam Swartz.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.