McHenry man charged in death of Island Lake woman

  • Howard Dibbern

    Howard Dibbern

  • Police conduct a death investigation Tuesday in Island Lake.

      Police conduct a death investigation Tuesday in Island Lake. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Updated 6/5/2014 10:09 PM

A 49-year-old McHenry man has been charged with the murder of an Island Lake woman found dead in her house Monday night, authorities announced Thursday.

Howard E. Dibbern, previously identified by authorities as a person of interest, was formally charged Thursday with two counts of murder in the death of 48-year-old Karen M. Scavelli, as well as a separate charge of possession of a stolen vehicle, according to the McHenry County sheriff's office.


Dibbern was arrested Tuesday morning after, police say, he stole Scavelli's car and crashed it into a Mundelein home.

The night before, authorities discovered Scavelli's body in a bedroom of her home on Dartmouth Drive after they received a phone call from a concerned acquaintance.

The McHenry County coroner's office says Scavelli's death was due to injuries sustained from blunt force.

Authorities say Dibbern had been in an intensive care unit at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville -- initially sedated because of his injuries -- but was released from medical care Thursday and taken into custody by the Island Lake Police Department. He was later taken to the McHenry County Correctional Facility, where he is being held on $2 million bail.

He is due in court Friday morning.

During the death investigation, a relative of Scavelli told police a red Pontiac Grand Am was missing from the house. That car was spotted about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday by police responding to a report of a stolen purse in Mundelein.

Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther said an employee at Gale Street Inn, 935 Diamond Lake Road, saw a man take a co-worker's purse and get into a red Pontiac Grand Am in the parking lot. A police officer driving to the restaurant spotted the car on Diamond Lake Road and followed it, Guenther said.

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The driver unexpectedly went back to the restaurant parking lot, where he drove in circles for a while before heading back south on Diamond Lake Road. When the officer caught up to the vehicle, it already had crashed into the house.

Police found a hammer and a knife in the car, Guenther said.

Dibbern was paroled April 25 after spending time in prison following a 2011 weapons charge out of Cook County, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.

Dibbern has a lengthy criminal history, dating to 1997, that includes convictions for aggravated domestic battery, residential burglary, forgery and theft, records show.

Sheriff's office investigators are looking to speak to anyone, including family and associates, who may have spoken to or have knowledge of the whereabouts of Dibbern and Scavelli last Monday and Tuesday that may aid them in the death investigation, according to a news release.

The sheriff's office can be reached at (815) 338-2144.

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