By Ruth Fuller
Special to the Tribune
8:11 PM CDT, March 15, 2013
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said that a Mundelein man killed his ex-girlfriend on the street in front of her father’s Antioch home this morning, then escaped to a nearby trailer where he committed suicide.
Curran identified the victim as Diane Kephart, 57, of Vernon Hills, and said that she recently had taken out and renewed an order of protection against her ex-boyfriend Paul Neff, 57, of the 1900 block of West Lakeview Avenue in Mundelein.
Neff had been charged with aggravated battery in a Feb. 17 incident involving Kephart, Curran said. Two days later, she filed an order of protection, according to the sheriff. That order expired March 12, he said, the same day Kephart filed to have it renewed for another two years.
An order of protection, though, “is a piece of paper,” Curran said. “It does not (stop) a person who is hell-bent on destruction and, ultimately, on murder.”
Neff was released on bond after being charged with battery. Curran said Kephart had been staying at her father’s home in an unincorporated area near Antioch since the event.
This morning at 7:38 a.m., Kephart’s father reportedly called police after finding his daughter outside with a wound to her neck.
At first, according to the sheriff, the man thought she might have been bitten by a dog.
Kephart was transported to the Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and pronounced dead, sheriff’s police said.
After police showed up and determined the injury had likely been caused by a knife, they brought in a K-9 unit, Curran said.
Dogs tracked a scent, he said, and Neff’s vehicle was located in the Sandbar Tavern parking lot. It was determined Neff was barricaded inside an abandoned camper travel trailer on the Sandbar Tavern property in the Beach Grove subdivision just down the street about 9:15 a.m.
Inside the trailer, Curran said sheriff’s police heard a man moving around. They tried to communicate with the man, according to Curran, and attempted to pass him a cell phone.
He did not reply, according to the sheriff.
Curran said sheriff’s police eventually realized that the man inside—whom they later discovered to be Neff—had killed himself, perhaps with the same knife he used to stab Kephart. Neff left behind a two-page suicide note, according to Curran.
Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Sara Balmes said it was about two hours before sheriff’s police realized Neff was dead.
The sheriff said Neff did not own the detached trailer or have permission to be there.
The Lake County coroner said that a autopsies on both Kephart and Neff were scheduled.
Tribune reporter Carlos Sadovi contributed.
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