Island Lake murder victim was stabbed, among other injuries, police say

  • Howard Dibbern

    Howard Dibbern

Updated 6/6/2014 3:08 PM

An Island Lake woman who was found murdered in her home this week was stabbed multiple times and suffered other injuries, local police revealed Friday.

But investigators still aren't sure how well 48-year-old Karen M. Scavelli knew the man now charged in her death, Howard E. Dibbern.


Police on Friday continued trying to build a timeline for Scavelli's final hours. They were also trying to determine what Dibbern was doing before and after the attack, Island Lake police Sgt. David Walz said.

Dibbern, 49, of McHenry, requested an attorney and has not spoken to investigators about the crime, Walz said.

Island Lake police, the McHenry County sheriff's office and the McHenry County Investigation Assistance Team are handling the case.

Anyone with information about where Dibbern or Scavelli were before she died or where Dibbern was afterward should call McHenry County police at (815) 338-2144.

Dibbern is charged with two counts of murder and possession of a stolen vehicle.

He was arrested Tuesday morning after crashing Scavelli's Pontiac Grand Am into the front of a house on Diamond Lake Road in Mundelein. That accident followed a brief police chase.

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The night before, Island Lake police discovered Scavelli's body in a bedroom of her home on Dartmouth Drive after being called to the house by someone who knew her.

An autopsy revealed she died from blunt force trauma. Walz said Scavelli was stabbed in the neck and suffered bruising.

When Dibbern was arrested, he had a hammer and a knife in the car, police said. On Friday, Walz said Dibbern hit himself in the head with the hammer and cut himself with the knife before being arrested.

Authorities didn't know if the hammer or the knife were used to kill Scavelli, Walz said.

Dibbern appeared briefly in bond court Friday. Additional charges could be approved when the case is presented to the McHenry County grand jury within the next month, State's Attorney Louis Bianchi said.

Dibbern remained in McHenry County jail on Friday on $2 million bail. He is next scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, June 10.


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

Dibbern was paroled April 25 after spending time in prison after a 2011 weapons charge out of Cook County, records show.

Scavelli's survivors include a daughter, two sons, a grandson and several siblings.

A memorial service hasn't been scheduled.

Daily Herald Staff Writer Lee Filas contributed to this report.

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