Stories posted are written by National news Journalists, not by this blog.
Our Blog Tips

Accused Kane candidate dies in crash

10-17-2007 Florida:

A Kane County Board candidate arrested last week on sexual assault charges died Tuesday when his vehicle slammed head-on into a concrete bridge support, Aurora police said.

Brent K. Schepp, 36, a father of four from Aurora, was traveling at "a very high rate of speed" on Eola Road and did not try to brake or take any evasive action, said Dan Ferrelli, police spokesman.

"At this point in the investigation, we believe this to be self-inflicted," Ferrelli said, adding that the coroner and an inquest will determine the cause of death.

Schepp was seeking the board's District 3 seat, but his first bid for office quickly unraveled with the announcement Friday of charges that he sexually abused and assaulted two teenage girls in 2005. The Kane County Republican Central Committee withdrew its endorsement of his candidacy that afternoon.

Police said Schepp was speeding south in his 2006 Dodge Charger on Eola Road between Molitor and Diehl Roads about 10:35 Tuesday morning when the car hit the bridge support. The force of the crash tore the gray vehicle into pieces and threw Schepp 50 feet and under a heavy piece of wreckage. The car caught fire upon impact.

Two passers-by rushed to free Schepp, but he died at the scene, police said.

The violent death Tuesday layered shock upon shock in his quiet upscale community, where neighbors and political supporters were still coming to grips with the sexual assault allegations. "I feel sorry for him, his family and everybody concerned, obviously," said Dennis Wiggins, chairman of the Kane County Republican Organization.

Schepp had been under investigation for two months. He was charged with 14 counts of criminal sexual assault, 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse and two counts of unlawful delivery of alcohol to a minor.

Kane County State's Atty. John Barsanti said the abuse occurred last year between June and December and involved two girls, now 15 and 16, whom Schepp knew.

Schepp had turned himself in Friday and was free on $75,000 bail. He was facing a minimum sentence of 34 years in prison if convicted.

Authorities were trying to tell the teens of Schepp's death Tuesday and that the case was closed, Barsanti said.

"If the defendant is deceased, the case is dismissed," he said.

Schepp, a civil engineer, had been involved in behind-the-scenes Republican politics for many years but had never pursued political office. A lifelong Aurora resident, he was among a group of community activists who pushed to reduce building density in older neighborhoods. Schepp was a precinct committeeman and a member of the party's Central Committee from Aurora Township.

He was touted for his professional background, which the Kane County Republican Central Committee said could help in future developments and capital projects, according to a ballot of recommendations posted on the committee's Web site. After Schepp's arrest, the committee rescinded its recommendation, saying in a written statement that "our party cannot endorse a candidate in the upcoming elections who is currently under a cloud of suspicion for such alleged conduct." In interviews after the allegations became public, at least one local party official urged Schepp to step out of the race, but as of Tuesday, he had not withdrawn, officials said.

"It obviously had taken a toll," Wiggins said. " This is a terrible tragedy, and all we can do is pray for the guy and his family."

After expressing her regrets last week upon learning of Schepp's arrest, his Democratic opponent, Arlene Shoemaker of Aurora, said she was deeply saddened at the news of his death. She lives near the Schepp family and knows them, she said.

"It just makes you feel so sad ... when somebody who has so much talent and is so smart and has so much potential just does himself in," said Shoemaker, a former County Board member who came out of retirement to run for the seat being vacated by Ken Griffin.

Nobody answered the door at Schepp's two-story white home in the 400 block of Linden Avenue in south Aurora, where two vehicles were in the driveway Tuesday afternoon.

But neighbors expressed sadness and shock.

"He was a wonderful neighbor, very helpful," said Pat Carroll. "He often played with my grandkids in their front yard."

Neighbor Sue Klimacek knew the Schepps for the last decade, and recalled how Brent Schepp was quick to lend tools when needed.

"I feel terribly bad for his wife and boys," Klimacek said. "He was a family man." ..more.. by William Presecky and Angela Rozas, Tribune staff reporters

No comments: