Hotel Employee Confesses in Essex-House Slaying

"I just lost it," alleged-killer reportedly told cops.

By Caitlin Millat and Hasani Gittens
|  Monday, Sep 21, 2009  |  Updated 5:08 AM PDT
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Supervisor of Luxury Hotel in Manhattan Arrested for Murder

Derrick Praileau, 29, was charged with second-degree murder this morning, police said.

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Supervisor of Luxury Hotel in Manhattan Arrested for Murder

A housing supervisor who worked at the Essex House for seven years has been charged with killing a guest. A maid discovered the victim strangled, with a knife sticking out from her neck.
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An employee at an exclusive Central Park hotel is facing second degree murder charges after allegedly confessing to the murder of a woman found with her throat slashed inside a private condominium in the Essex House complex.

Authorities arrested 29-year-old Derrick Praileau in the hours following the discovery of the naked woman whose throat had been slashed.  A knife was sticking out of her neck when police found her body at the luxury Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South Saturday, police said.

Praileau is the head of housekeeping at the ritzy hotel, the Daily News reported. Police sources said Praileau was seen on surveillance video entering Andree (Sara) Bejjani's condo around the time of her death, the newspaper said.

Bejjani, 44, was found dead and naked, her dress pulled over her head, by a hotel maid Saturday afternoon in one of the hotel's luxury condos. She was the president of a Duabi-based real estate investment firm, sources said.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said it did not appear the two had a "previous relationship."

Praileau has reportedly confessed to cops, saying "I just lost it," according to the Post.

Law-enforcement sources told the paper that it didn't appear Bejjani had been raped, although she was naked from the waist down.

The Daily News cited sources that said a "sex-crazed" Praileau had stole into the Lebanese woman's condo, and held a 10-inch knife to her through as he tried to have his way with her. When she resisted, he allegedly stabbed her in throat, the sources told the paper.

Praileau's lawyer, Richard Siracusa, declined comment.

The hotel said its "heartfelt condolences go out to the victim's family." 

The hotel, which opened in 1931, is near the heart of upscale Fifth Avenue.

We understand that a hotel employee has been arrested pending charges in conjunction with this incident. We continue to fully cooperate with the police throughout their investigation," a spokesperson said in a statement.

Police said Bejjani worked in real estate investment and had lived in Dubai. She leased the condo and had been there since August.

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