A luxe hotel overlooking Central Park was the scene of a gruesome murder yesterday after a woman was found with a knife sticking out of her neck and her nightgown pushed up — and cops had a building employee in custody, authorities said.
Victim Andree Bejjani, 44, was found with a jump rope wrapped around her neck, lying face down, in her 10th-floor condo in the Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South, sources said.
A 10-inch serrated bread knife protruded from the back of her neck as she lie on the kitchen floor, the sources said.
Cops arrested a hotel housekeeping manager, Derrick Praileau, early this morning at the Midtown North station house, the sources said.
Praileau, 29, has not been charged, but sources said he made statements implicating himself.
Investigators believe he arrived early for his 6 a.m. shift and got into Bejjani’s apartment with a key that he had after he unsuccessfully tried to get into another room, sources said.
A video camera caught Praileau, who has worked at the hotel for about 10 years, entering her room, the sources said.
He admitted to cops that he was inside the condo, but denied doing anything else, the sources said.
It was not clear if she had been sexually assaulted, cops said.
There did not appear to be anything missing from the home.
A horrified maid discovered the body at around 2:30 p.m. and called 911.
Bejjani, who also went by Sara, is originally from Lebanon and traveled often for business. She was last seen alive Friday at around 9 p.m., the sources said.
A grieving family member, who refused to give his name, told The Post he was the only relative Bejjani had in America and he didn’t know how he’d be able to summon the strength to tell her kin in Lebanon.
“I don’t even know if I could call them,” the teary-eyed man said.
Bejjani, who once rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, had been subletting the unit since August.
Praileau, a married father of two, was picked up at his Bronx home on White Plains Road by six NYPD detectives said neighbor Sean Johnson.
“They brought him outside, he was calm and everyone was quiet,” Johnson told The Post, adding he considered Praileau to be “a very good family man.” Praileau has no criminal record, sources said.
The Jumeirah Essex House has both hotel units that go for as much as $1,500 a night and condos that sell for millions of dollars.
It opened in 1931 and has undergone $90 million worth of renovations in recent years.
A spokeswoman for the hotel said: “Our deepest sympathies go out to the victim’s family.”
Source: New York Post