Hoffman cops describe scene of '09 triple murder

Attorneys want to suppress D'Andre Howard's statement in Engelhardt slayings

A police officer who arrived first at the scene of a 2009 triple homicide in Hoffman Estates testified he walked past five people lying on the floor, some dead, some injured, before coming to Marie Engelhardt sitting on a sofa, holding her wounded 18-year-old granddaughter Laura Engelhardt's hand.

"She appeared to be consoling her," Hoffman Estates police Sgt. Michael Brady, now retired, testified Tuesday in a pretrial hearing on the case.

The teenager, a senior at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, died hours later. But before that, on the floor of her home, she opened her eyes and answered a police officer who asked who stabbed her and her family.

"Dre," said Hoffman Estates police officer Michael Turman, recounting in court what he said Laura told him.

Prosecutors say "Dre" is D'Andre Howard, 23, the former fiance of Laura's sister, Amanda. He is charged with Laura's death, as well as the murders of Alan Engelhardt, 57, Laura's father; and Marlene Gacek, 73, Alan's mother-in-law. Howard also is charged with the attempted first-degree murder of Shelly Engelhardt, Alan's wife, who survived.

Tuesday's testimony came during a motion to suppress statements Howard made to authorities at the Engelhardt house where the murders occurred and at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, where Howard was treated for a stab wound to his arm.

The hearing continues today.

In his testimony, Brady described arriving at the home of Alan and Shelly Engelhardt at about 6:48 a.m. April 17, 2009, in response to a 911 call from a distraught woman.

The floor "was covered with blood," said Brady, who saw Gacek's body in the kitchen before he entered the den and discovered Alan, Shelly, Laura and Howard lying on the floor. Brady called for paramedics.

A few minute later, paramedics' shout that Laura was awake brought Turman into the den, Turman said.

After Laura named "Dre" as the assailant, Turman said he asked, "Who is Dre?"

Howard stated "I'm Dre," Turman said. Howard told him, "She stabbed me first," Turman said.

He said he asked Laura if she had stabbed Howard, and she said yes.

"They got stabbed trying to take the knife away," Turman testified Howard said. Marie Engelhardt, Amanda, and the baby Amanda had with Howard were not injured. Another son, Jeff, was away at college.

Howard's attorney, Cook County Assistant Public Defender Jim Mullenix, has asked that the court not admit statements he says police elicited from Howard before they read him his Miranda rights and after he invoked his right to legal counsel. Mullenix claims police coerced statements from Howard and that Howard did not understand he was under arrest at the time.

But Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Maria McCarthy said Howard's references to an attorney did not amount to invocation of his right to counsel. Moreover, said McCarthy, Howard signed a Miranda waiver.

Officer James Logan testified he accompanied Howard to the hospital. A nurse asked Howard what happened.

Howard told her "they were playing with a sword and they began to fight over control of the sword," Logan said.

Later, still at the hospital, Howard asked to see Logan.

"He said he wanted to notify his lawyer because he heard someone say he was a suspect," Logan said.

About an hour later "he asked me what he was being charged with. I told him I didn't know and we were just checking on everything," Logan said.

Howard later gave a videotaped statement to police, authorities said. The videotape is expected to be played today in court in Rolling Meadows.

The Engelhardt family in an undated photo. In the front are Amanda and Jeff. Standing behind are Alan, Laura and Shelly Engelhardt. File photo
DÂ’Andre Howard