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By Gus Bode

An SIUC student lost three relatives when a man police say was his older sister’s boyfriend attacked the family with a butcher knife.

Jeff Engelhardt, a junior from Hoffman Estates studying journalism and managing editor of the Daily Egyptian, learned Friday that his father, grandmother and younger sister were killed in the attack. His mother, 52-year-old Shelly Engelhardt, remains in critical condition in St. Alexius Medical Center in Elk Grove Village.

Jeff Engelhardt said his relatives were his best friends.


‘They were the most giving people I’ve ever met,’ he said. ‘All of them were just willing to give to make other people’s lives better.’

Cook County Circuit Judge Samuel Betar ordered D’Andre Howard held without bail Saturday on three counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of unlawful restraint. Police say Howard, 20, had dated Jeff Engelhardt’s older sister, Amanda Engelhardt, for three years.

Prosecutors said the couple quarreled Thursday night and Amanda Engelhardt took their 8-month-old daughter to her family’s home. Howard showed up there at 1:30 a.m. Friday and resumed the argument, assistant state’s attorney Maria McCarthy said Saturday.

The noise drew Shelly Engelhardt and her daughter, 18-year-old Laura Engelhardt, downstairs, where Howard tied up the three women with yarn, McCarthy said. When he untied Laura Engelhardt, the Conant High School senior grabbed the knife and stabbed him.

Jeff Engelhardt said he was not surprised to learn of his sister’s bravery.

‘She was tough, as witnessed by this. She’s tougher than I’ll ever be,’ he said.

McCarthy said Howard took back the knife and stabbed Laura Engelhardt multiple times. She was able to tell authorities what happened before she died in a hospital around noon Friday.


After stabbing Laura Engelhardt, Howard stabbed her mother in the heart and lung, McCarthy said. He then stabbed Shelly Engelhardt’s mother, 73-year-old Marlene Gacek. When 57-year-old Alan Engelhardt tried to help, Howard slit his throat, prosecutors said.

Howard told Shelly Engelhardt’s 55-year-old sister and 85-year-old mother-in-law to sit on a couch in the family room, prosecutors said. Jeff Engelhardt said his aunt and paternal grandmother are unharmed, as are his older sister and niece.

Howard allowed Amanda Engelhardt to call police at about 6:40 a.m. Friday, McCarthy said. Alan Engelhardt and Gacek were pronounced dead at the scene.

McCarthy said prosecutors might seek the death penalty for Howard, whose attorney says he has unspecified mental health issues.

Jeff Engelhardt remembered his father, a stay-at-home dad, as unfailingly generous and loving. He said Alan Engelhardt would wait in the car during his son’s 30-minute drum lessons, and always made sure his children got to events and practices on time.

‘He was always willing to make things easy for everybody,’ Jeff Engelhardt said. ‘I strive to be as kind as he was and as giving as he was.’

He said his grandmother would talk with him all night and could always make him laugh.

‘I hope the people that knew my family just remember them for how kind they were,’ he said.

He said services had not been scheduled yet. His co-workers plan to raise money to help the family; details will appear on soon.

The Daily Egyptian policy and review board named Jeff Engelhardt editor-in-chief for the summer and fall semesters at a meeting April 10.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.