Prosecutors may seek death penalty for stabbing suspect

Surviving family member speaks out
April 19, 2009 7:20:45 AM PDT
Brutal details of a triple murder in suburban Hoffman Estates were unveiled at a court hearing over the weekend.Prosecutors say 20-year-old D'andre Howard stabbed three members of a family to death after a fight with his girlfriend.

A judge ordered Howard held without bond Saturday. Prosecutors say he has a lengthy police record.

The man's fiancee, 23-year-old Amanda Engelhardt, was not hurt in the

In less than an hour, Jeff Engelhardt lost his sister, father and maternal grandmother inside his family's Hoffman Estates home.

"I still don't know much about what happened. I just know the end result," said Engelhardt.

Police say 20-year-old D'Andre Howard believed his 23-year-old girlfriend was cheating on him. He confronted her at her parent's home.

Inside, prosecutors say Howard armed himself with a kitchen knife then used yarn to tie-up his girlfriend's sister Laura, a senior at Conant High School, along with her mother and grandmother. As minutes turned to hours, investigators say Laura saw an opportunity when Howard briefly put down the knife.

"When he did so, Laura grabbed the knife that the defendant put down and stabbed him in the arm. The defendant then grabbed the knife and stabbed Laura and then stabbed Laura's mother," said Maria McCarthy, assistant Cook County state's attorney.

When Laura's father, Alan, tried to intervene he too was stabbed. So was her grandmother, 73-year-old Marlene Gacek.

For nearly 45 minutes the three victims lay bleeding.

"The defendant's girlfriend repeatedly begged to let her call 911, anyone to call 911 but he ripped the phone jacks from the wall and kitchen," said McCarthy.

"It's just sick, it's just sick. How someone could do this to this family is beyond me," said Gayle Irvin, the victims' neighbor.

Records show D'Andre Howard's parents' rights to custody were terminated when he was 14. Five years ago, as a juvenile he was charged with criminal sexual abuse. He violated his probation. In 2008 Howard was charged with battery. Lake County authorities currently have an order of protection against him.

For Jeff Engelhardt, a student at Southern Illinois University, the painful process of healing promises to be a long one.

"They were all my best friends in different ways. You take one away and I'm a completely different person," said Engelhardt.

D'Andre Howard did not harm his girlfriend or their 8-month old daughter. The judge denied bond for Howard on Saturday.

Prosecutors indicate they may seek the death penalty, although there's currently a moratorium on executions in Illinois.


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