Murder suspect from Aurora added to U.S. Marshals Most Wanted list
By Chuck Keeshan and Susan Sarkauskas
The 3½-year international manhunt for a man wanted in the 2017 slaying of a Northwest suburban attorney got a shot in the arm this week with his addition to the U.S. Marshals Service's 15 Most Wanted list.
John Panaligan, 54, of Aurora, is believed to have fled to Mexico and then perhaps the Philippines in early 2017, shortly after he was accused of killing Jigar Patel in his Northbrook law office. Despite a search that's included the assistance of the State Department and Interpol, Panaligan so far has evaded capture.
Northbrook police say Panaligan's inclusion on the most wanted list -- which means added publicity and resources -- is a boost to the search.
"This type of exposure makes us optimistic that there will be more leads and we will eventually bring him to justice," Sgt. Marc Fainman told us, via department spokesman Thomas Moore.
Panaligan is accused of killing Patel, a real estate lawyer who lived in Prospect Heights, on Dec. 7, 2016. Authorities believe Panaligan scheduled an appointment with Patel under an alias, showed up in disguise and then strangled him to death. Patel, at the time, was representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Panaligan.
Two days after the murder, Panaligan was detained by Canadian authorities for trying to smuggle a firearm into that country. He later was released back into the U.S. and interviewed by Northbrook investigators about the killing.
Investigators also executed multiple search warrants of Panaligan's belongings and property, leading to evidence that police say identified him as the primary suspect.
An arrest warrant was issued Feb. 8, 2017, but Panaligan was on the run by then.
"This senseless crime took the life of a man who was a husband and a father to two small children," U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington said this week upon Panaligan's addition to the Most Wanted list. "The U.S. Marshals and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners will use every available resource to bring John Panaligan to face justice for the heinous allegations involving the murder of Jigar Patel."
High hopes for Lake crisis center
Dealing with someone suffering a mental health crisis can be among a police officer's most challenging tasks, one that -- as we've seen in the suburbs and elsewhere -- can lead to tragic results. A study by The Washington Post found that a quarter of those fatally shot in confrontations with police were suffering a mental health crisis at the time.
Changing that is one of the motives behind a new partnership between law enforcement and mental health agencies in Lake County to help people in crisis.
Thanks, in part, to a $750,000 federal grant announced last month, the agencies plan to open a 23-hour Crisis Triage Stabilization Center next year. The free-standing facility will serve as a safe place for police officers to take people suffering from a mental health crisis for help, instead of to jail or an emergency room.
The federal money will help with the hiring of a project director, a project coordinator, a clinical director and counselors, along with other necessary costs, officials said.
"Currently, so many people that struggle with substance abuse or mental health issues end up in the criminal justice system. As a society, we must do better," Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim said in an announcement of the grant. "This center will allow us the opportunity to enhance our current efforts to divert those people away from the court system and toward the help they need."
Partnering with the state's attorney's office are the Lake County sheriff's office, the Lake County Opioid Initiative, the Lake County Health Department, Nicasa Behavioral Health Services and Lake County government.
"Having this crisis center here in Lake County is long overdue," Sheriff John Idleburg said. "The Lake County jail is not the place for someone in mental crisis. They deserve to get the supportive resources needed."
Nicasa CEO Bruce Johnson said those taken to the center will meet with counselors and peer recovery specialists who will help them start the road to recovery.
Shop safe, shop smart
While some may still be heading to the stores for their holiday shopping on Black Friday and beyond, more of us than ever before will do a majority of our gift-buying on the web this year.
That's good news not just for Amazon and UPS, but also scammers who prey on those unfamiliar with online shopping.
Here are some tips, courtesy of the Better Business Bureau, to avoid getting ripped off:
• Know who you're doing business with. Fake websites are easy to create and have been a surging problem the past couple of years.
• Do your research. Read product reviews on extremely discounted items. It could be a cheaper model or brand advertised, and not what was expected.
• Read the fine print. Some retailers may offer an additional percentage off the purchase but could exclude specific deals or items such as "doorbusters." Watch for companies boasting a high percentage off; the item may be "75% off," but the original price could be inflated.
• Know the return policy and warranty information.
• Look for the "https" in the URL -- the extra "s" is for "secure" -- and a small lock icon on the address bar. Never enter payment or information into a website with only "http" -- it's not secure.
• Beware of making quick purchases while scrolling through social media. Scammers have access to tools they need to learn about your buying habits, offering precisely what you want at enticingly low prices, and scammers often purchase online ads.
• Use a secure traceable form of payment. With a credit card, you're less likely to lose money.
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