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Naperville man confesses to 3 1/2-year-old pedestrian fatality

A 20-year-old University of Illinois student, days away from entering her junior year in college, walked along McDonough Drive in Joliet in August 2008. She was struck and killed near the Illinois Youth Center by a hit-and-run driver who escaped police capture for three and a half years.

Authorities say the Naperville man confessed to the pedestrian accident in an unannounced visit to the home of the victim's sister. The family member called police after the suspect left her residence. A car license plate number, supplied by the victim's family, helped Joliet police trace the suspect to a home address.

Officials said the man charged with the fatal pedestrian accident "appeared to be expecting them." The Naperville man was arrested and charged with hit-and-run death and leaving the scene of the accident. Bail was set at $1 million.

The suspect told Joliet police that he lost his way searching for Interstate 55. The man admitted that he stopped after his car struck the woman. He realized she was alive, but seriously hurt. The suspect said he fled when other cars approached the area.

During the initial investigation, police talked with a driver that witnessed a vehicle leaving the scene around 12:20 a.m. The driver saw the brake lights of a swerving car before coming upon the victim in the road.

As leads fizzled, the victim's family unsuccessfully sought help through Crimestoppers, offering $25,000 reward for information. NASCAR driver Kevin Conway boosted the effort by featuring the victim's picture on his race car during a competition last fall in Joliet. Apparently, the suspect saw the Chicagoland Speedway race and mentioned it during his confession to the victim's sister.

In the time between the pedestrian fatality and the arrest, the suspect was charged with other wrongdoing. A 2009 assault against a member of his family led to conviction on battery charges, a 71-day stint in the DuPage County Jail and probation. The suspect was under court supervision following a 2010 reckless driving conviction until mid-February of this year.

Source: napervillesun.suntimes.com, "He left a living person dying on the ground," Mar. 1, 2012

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