Hassan Malik, 55, allegedly admitted killing Betty Williams, 28, the New York Post reported, citing sources. He lives near where the body discovered in East Harlem.
Malik was charged Monday night. A passerby opened the suitcase after it was left on the street at about midnight Wednesday.
Neighbors said they recognized Malik when police released a security camera video showing a man pulling the suitcase, the New York Daily News reported. They also said Malik boasted about robbing prostitutes.
"He had a lot of girls," one neighbor said. "He could talk. Sometimes it's not the looks. He's a people person."
Malik allegedly told police he had sex with Williams and then killed her after he saw her taking money from him beyond what he had paid her, the newspaper reported.
Both Malik and Williams had arrest records.