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Two dead in Antioch Township murder-suicide

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Updated: May 15, 2013 2:36AM

ANTIOCH TOWNSHIP — A 57-year-old Vernon Hills woman trying to avoid an ex-boyfriend who assaulted her last month — and who she received an order of protection against this week — was stalked by him and killed outside her parents’ home Friday morning.

Diane Kephart was on her way to work at Uline shipping company in Waukegan around 7:30 a.m. She had exited her parents’ home at 41000 block of North Westlake Avenue in Antioch Township when she was assaulted by Paul Neff, 57, of the 19000 block of West Lakeview Avenue near Mundelein, police said.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said it appeared Neff stalked Kephart at the home, stabbed her in the neck and slashed her face twice before she fell to the ground in front of her grey Honda Civic parked in the driveway.

Sheriff Mark Curran said her father, Richard Van Dyke, looked out the window and thought he saw a pile of clothing on the driveway, but then realized it was his daughter.

“At first he thought she had been attacked by dogs,” said Curran because of the slashes and puncture wound on her neck.

Neff traveled to an old camping trailer less than a mile south, near the Sandbar Bar and Grille restaurant, and barricaded himself inside. Police did not say if he drove or fled on foot, but did say investigators discovered Neff’s red Jeep Cherokee parked nearby and other evidence.

“We found a sheath for a knife,” Curran said Friday. “We set up a perimeter and tried to make contact with him,” Curran said.

Neighbors like Nancy Goralski, who owns the Sandbar restaurant, said they heard police trying to contact Neff.

“They had the trailer surrounded and they were yelling at him, saying, ‘Come on out we’re not going to hurt you,’” she said.

At one point an officer told her to close her blinds and stay in the basement, Goralski added. After, Neff’s death, she said she observed a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey and a mason jar of what appeared to be crystal clear moonshine inside the trailer.

Attempts to talk continued for a few hours, but police broke a trailer window to throw in a telephone around 11:20 a.m. and an officer saw Neff bleeding on the ground.

Curran said police believe he used the same 6-inch butcher knife to kill himself that he used in the attack on Kephart. Neff’s two-page suicide note was found by police inside his car.

Kephart had been in Lake County Circuit Court March 12 for a hearing on her request to renew an expiring order of protection against Neff. She was seeking an additional two-year order of protection against him. Neff was present for the hearing and was served his papers at the end of the hearing, officials said.

The hearing stemmed from a February crime, when Neff was arrested by Vernon Hills police for allegedly taking a knife to Kephart’s throat at her Vernon Hills home and threatening to kill her, according to court records; He was charged with aggravated battery, Curran said. Kephart then received her first order of protection on Feb. 19. Neff was freed on $50,000 bond and was scheduled for court April 3.

Curran said he felt bad for Kephart’s elderly parents, adding an order of protection “is no guarantee.”

“It’s just a piece of paper,” he said. “It does not protect someone from someone who is hell-bent on destruction and, ultimately, murder.”

Goralski said nothing like this has happened before in the area.

“This is a quiet neighborhood,” she said.

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