Man charged in murder at Whitehall Hotel on Gold Coast

September 17, 2012 (CHICAGO)

A 22-year-old Texas woman was shot to death last month inside the Gold Coast boutique hotel. In this Intelligence Report: The accused killer is a parole violator with a long criminal history.

The execution-style killing in the Whitehall Hotel, just off Michigan Avenue, was news around the world. In a summer of violence, the stories reported that murder had finally reached the Magnificent Mile.

Just a day after the high-profile killing, police made an arrest. Now, more than a month later, charges have been filed.

Late Monday afternoon, 28-year-old Lamarcus Washington was charged with first-degree murder by Cook County prosecutors.

The Humboldt Park parolee was taken into custody by Chicago police last month, shortly after 22-year-old Brianna Gardner was found in a seventh floor room at the Whitehall Hotel.

Gardner had been shot in the head.

Detectives say they quickly tracked Washington because his cell phone was left behind in the hotel room. Washington is suspected of having arranged to meet the victim, who had been working as a prostitute.

Authorities say the murder charges were not filed for more than a month because prosecutors were awaiting DNA tests results.

Both the suspect and victim have criminal records.

Washington, a known gang member whose nickname is "Polo," according to police, has a lengthy rap sheet topped by a soliciting prostitution charge last spring. Since he was a teenager, Washington has been charged with burglary, car theft and dealing drugs.

Washington was held for the past month for violating parole on a 2007 drug conviction.

Now, for the first time, he is facing a murder charge.

Washington was the victim's final client. How both of them checked into the swank Whitehall Hall without raising suspicions isn't known, and neither is it known at this point how Washington escaped unseen after police say he shot Gardner in the head.

Gardner will appear in Cook County bond court Tuesday.

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