Woman found stabbed to death at River North hotel

October 12, 2011 4:52:11 AM PDT
Police say a mother of five was found stabbed to death inside a boutique hotel in Chicago's River North neighborhood Tuesday.

Police say the woman was stabbed multiple times and was found lying beside a bloody knife inside a room at the four-star Hotel Felix, located on Huron between Clark and LaSalle.

The death of Sarai Michaels of La Crosse, Wis., has officially been ruled a homicide. Police say the 31-year-old has a long criminal history.

Police arrived at The Hotel Felix just after 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, responding to two 911 calls -- one was placed by a member of the night staff, the other by a guest in a room on the 12th floor. In that room was the body of Michaels.

Guests at The Hotel Felix, known for being eco-friendly and elegant, said they were shocked to hear about the incident.

"I'm shocked. I had no idea. It's a really nice hotel and a quiet place," said hotel guest Brett Moore.

"Surprise, shock. It was my last night, and I'm leaving today. I didn't think this would happen here," said John Wong, also a hotel guest.

Hotel officials say the night staff called 911 after midnight, but police had already been contacted by a guest in the room. According to the hotel's general manager, George Jordan, Michaels was staying with a registered guest from out of state. Jordan said other guests have no reason to fear for their safety.

"This does not appear to be random, and I want to stress that. Apparently, these people knew each other," Jordan said.

A law enforcement source said Tuesday three people were being questioned, including two women and one man. However, there are no persons of interest in this case. Police took a car into evidence early Tuesday and were reviewing surveillance tape from the hotel, apparently showing the victim with one of the people being questioned.

"Like many four-star hotels, we have a number of cameras that are located in strategic locations around the hotel. So, they capture movements of all guests that are coming and going to and from the elevators and to and from the entry and egress points," said Jordan. There are no surveillance cameras, however, located inside the hotel rooms.

Hotel officials say the victim was seen coming and going from the hotel Monday afternoon. They say she has never stayed at the hotel before.

"I've been in hotels where you've heard of skirmish, but never to this extent. It's kind of frightening," said hotel guest Sam Swartz.

The circumstances surrounding Michaels' murder are still under investigation. No one is in custody.

"Of course it's very shocking. And traveling alone, it is something that is worrisome to me," said hotel guest Renata Bereziuk.

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