Prosecutors: Man choked woman to death in River North hotel room

Lavarius McFadden (inset) and the SpringHill Suites | CPD: Friedman Properties

Prosecutors today accused a West Side man of strangling a woman in her River North hotel room last month. Lavarius McFadden, 24, is charged with first-degree murder. A judge ordered him held without bail.

Officials said Elizabeth Long, 22, checked into the SpringHill Suites at 410 North Dearborn on March 12. Two days later, she arranged to meet with McFadden via the Tagged social media app in exchange for $100, prosecutors said.

He went to her hotel room around 4:37 p.m., but then claimed that he didn’t know that he had to pay for their meeting, according to prosecutors. When Long continued to ask for payment, McFadden pushed her and then strangled her until her eyes rolled back into her head, a prosecutor said.

McFadden allegedly told investigators that Long was reaching for a knife but he didn’t give her a chance to get it. With Long unconscious on the bed, McFadden took the knife and her phone, then left the hotel shortly after 5 p.m., prosecutors said.

Hotel employees went to Long’s room about an hour later to check on her condition after the front desk received a call from a friend who was concerned about her safety, according to statements made in bond court today. McFadden claimed he did not know Long was a prostitute.

Fire department personnel tried to revive Long, but she was pronounced dead shortly after their arrival.

Prosecutors said hotel surveillance video captured images of McFadden carrying Long’s bright blue phone out of the lobby after the alleged attack. His “distinctive neck tattoos” are allegedly visible on the footage. 

The Cook County Medical Examiner determined Long’s death was a homicide, but it has not been able to reach a conclusion about the cause of death because the office has been overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases, a prosecutor said.

Investigators reviewed tracking data from Long’s phone to determine that it stayed near the SpringHill Suites from the time of her arrival until McFadden allegedly took it. Phone records reportedly show the device moving to the Austin neighborhood, where McFadden lives, and then continuing to DuPage County where it remained until police arrested McFadden there over the weekend.

Cops served a search warrant at the girlfriend’s house on Saturday. Officers said they recovered Long’s cell phone as well as the blue jacket that McFadden allegedly wore to his meeting with Long.

McFadden continued to use Long’s phone and even posed as Long in text messages from her phone after the murder, according to prosecutors. He allegedly arranged for at least two men to send a total of about $200 to his girlfriend’s cash app for prospective meetings with Long.

Prosecutors said McFadden admitted to strangling Long and taking her phone and knife from the hotel room. 

His attorney said McFadden has no previous convictions.

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