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Article updated: 3/16/2013 10:59 AM

Police: Lake County woman killed by ex-boyfriend

By Russell Lissau Lee Filas

A Lake County woman who obtained an order of protection this week against her ex-boyfriend was killed by the man Friday morning before he took his own life, authorities said.

Diane Kephart, 61, was attacked in the driveway of her parents' Antioch Township home, police said. She recently had moved there from Vernon Hills.

The suspect -- identified as Paul Neff, 57, of the 19000 block of West Lake View Avenue near Mundelein -- slashed Kephart in the throat and face with a 6-inch butcher-style knife, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said during a news conference.

"This is a very tragic day," Curran said. "Our hearts go out to the family of the woman on their loss."

Neff paced outside the home on North Westlake Avenue while waiting for Kephart to leave for her job at Uline, a Kenosha company, Lake County sheriff's Chief Brian Keller said.

After Kephart emerged from the home, Neff confronted and stabbed her, Keller said.

Kephart's father discovered her in the driveway about 7:30 a.m., near her silver Honda, Curran said. The man initially thought a dog had attacked Kephart, authorities said.

Police and rescue crews were called, and Kephhart was rushed to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. She was pronounced dead at the hospital about an hour later.

Kephart suffered slashing wounds to the neck, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd said. An autopsy was being conducted Friday.

After the attack, Neff drove his red Jeep Grand Cherokee to a nearby tavern at Westlake Avenue and Beach Grove Road, about two blocks away.

Officers searching the area found the Jeep and then noticed Neff hiding in a nearby camping trailer.

Officers surrounded the trailer and tried to make contact, but Neff stabbed himself in the neck and chest, authorities said.

A two-page suicide note was found in Neff's car, Curran said.

Kephhart obtained a two-year order of protection against Neff on Tuesday, about one month after Neff held a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her, Lake County court records show.

Neff was arrested Feb. 17 and charged with aggravated domestic battery with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm with a revoked ID card and domestic battery, records show.

Police reports indicate Neff held a large kitchen knife to Kephart's throat and threatened to kill her and himself at his home.

Neff was released from custody after posting 10 percent of a $50,000 bond, reports indicate.

Kephart obtained an emergency order of protection against Neff and then got the extended order, authorities said.

But the documents didn't save her life.

"The absolute reality is that an order of protection is just a piece of paper," Curran said. "It doesn't stop someone that is hellbent on murder."

Kephart had worked at Uline for two years as a marketing analyst, according to a prepared statement from the company.

"She was a woman that brought maturity, an outstanding work ethic and a smile to the team," the statement read. "She was one of those people that would offer you a helping hand and never had a bad word to say about anyone."

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