Investigators are re-examining the mysterious death of an Illinois eye doctor’s wife in 2011 after the man was accused of fatally stabbing his girlfriend dozens of times last month.
Anthony R. Prate, 55, is facing first degree-murder charges in the death of his 48-year-old girlfriend, Malgorzata B. “Margaret” Daniel. Police have said Prate stabbed Daniel between 20 and 30 times on Nov. 23, according The Chicago Daily Herald.
Prate called 911 himself to report that he and his girlfriend—a nurse—had gotten into an argument.
“My girlfriend and I had a fight. She stabbed me with a knife, and I stabbed her back, and I think she’s gravely wounded. And I’m wounded too,” he told the 911 dispatcher, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Prate was later arrested and charged with her murder.
But investigators are now taking a look at the mysterious death of another woman connected to Prate: his wife Bridget Prate, who died in 2011 at the age of 45.
Just a week before Bridget was killed, Prate made a strange call to 911. He told authorities he had arrived at his Algonquin home to find his wife and another man talking about a plot to kill him. He believed the pair were having an affair, but when officers arrived at the home a short time later, Bridget told authorities it had all been a misunderstanding.
She died a week later in a car crash that raised several red flags for investigators. Prate told investigators that he had been driving, while his wife was riding in the passenger seat. He said she unbuckled her seat belt to look for her purse and a bottle of water and that he had lost control of the car, striking an oncoming car and then hitting a tree, according to police records obtained by The Tribune.
Bridget was found crumbled under the dashboard and was already dead with authorities arrived.
The pathologist assigned to the case believed her injuries were inconsistent with those from a major car crash and thought she “was dead prior to the time of the accident,” records said.
The airbag in the car had never deployed and the damage to the car didn’t seem severe enough to have caused a fatality.
An autopsy would reveal that Bridget had a fractured vertebra in her neck but Dr. Mark Witeck of the Kane County coroner’s office didn’t believe that the injury would have killed her, according to records obtained by the paper. She had no other significant injuries making her death somewhat of a mystery and it was ruled “undetermined.”
“There was no evidence of significant injuries or natural disease which caused or contributed to the death," he wrote in his report, according to the paper.
But a witness at the scene described Anthony—who suffered only minor injuries—as “frantic and shocked” after the crash. He had also tried to perform CPR on his wife until paramedics arrived.
Investigators looked into the death for at least 10 months and had a second pathologist examine the injuries. But when the second pathologist’s findings didn’t match the first pathologist, prosecutors stopped their efforts to bring the case before a grand jury.
No charges were ever filed, but a few years after Bridget died her family hired a private investigator to take another look at the case.
Private investigator Bruce Johnson told The Chicago Daily Herald that he found it odd that Bridget didn't have a pulse when emergency responders arrived, despite what appeared to be low-impact crash.
On Monday, Lake in the Hills Police and the McHenry County state’s attorney’s office announced they plan to re-examine the case, in light of the new charges against Anthony.
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