POSSIBLE SECOND VICTIM: X-WIFE BRIGET PRATE
November 23, 2019 a 911 call came in from a fifty-five year old man named Anthony Prate stating he had a fight with his girlfriend Margaret Daniel who he said stabbed him first, and in turn he stabbed her with the same knife. When first responders arrived at the residence on the 300 block of Arbor Glen Boulevard in Algonquin, Illinois, it seemed she was stabbed twenty to thirty times. Margaret was not breathing.
Before making the 911 call Prate had made calls to his family admitting he had stabbed Daniel “a lot of times”.
The autopsy showed her death was ruled a homicide and caused by “sharp force injuries”. The Daily Herald reported that on the night before Margaret held a dinner party which she hosted at her home. Prosecutors say the guests discussed the topic of death, which upset Prate, who left the room for a long period and returned noticeably agitated.
Anthony R Prate, 55 was charged with First Degree Murder in the death of forty-eight year old Malgorzata “Margaret” Daniel. Prate was indicted and held without bond at the Cook County Jail. Prate had optometry offices in Barrington and Lake Zurich, Illinois.
Anthony Prate was a widower. His previous wife, Bridget Prate reportedly died in an accident back in March 1, 2011 in Lake in the Hills, McHenry County, Illinois.
About 6:27 P.M., Anthony was driving the black 2009 Nissan four-door SUV with his wife, Bridget Prate, 45, was also in the vehicle. The vehicle was traveling North on Pyott Road when it crossed the centerline and collided with a 2008 Chevy SUV driving southbound. The Nissan went off the road striking a tree and a fence.
Bridget was taken to Sherman Hospital in Elgin and pronounced dead. Anthony was treated for minor injuries and released from a hospital in McHenry.
It was unclear why Anthony crossed the centerline, or if either Anthony or Bridget were wearing their seatbelts. Road conditions were clear and dry. It was not reported if there were drugs or alcohol in either of their systems.
This crash was described as a ‘low impact crash’. First responders found Bridget with no pulse at the scene. Her autopsy was listed as undetermined cause of death.
The Chicago Tribune reports: When Anthony Prate arrived home and heard his wife talking to another man inside, he suspected the two were having an affair and plotting to kill him.
That’s what the suburban eye doctor told police when he called 911 and demanded that both his wife of nearly 20 years and the man be arrested. But when officers arrived at the Algonquin home that day in 2011, Bridget Prate told them it was all a misunderstanding and they left, police records show.
Less than a week later, Bridget Prate, 45, was dead, her body crumpled under the dashboard of a car that crashed while her husband was driving. Anthony Prate told authorities his wife had unbuckled her seat belt to look for her purse and a water bottle just moments before he lost control of the vehicle, crossed the center line, hit an oncoming car and then a tree, according to police records.
But some of the circumstances of the crash raised questions among investigators. Besides the police call days before, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Bridget Prate said her injuries were inconsistent with a major collision and told police he believed she “was dead prior to the time of the accident," a police report states. He ruled that her cause of death was undetermined.
Also, Lake in the Hills police noted in a report that no airbag deployed on Bridget Prate’s side of the car during the crash, and that there was “no damage to the car that would seem to be consistent with a fatal accident.”
Authorities cited those findings in their decision days after the crash to investigate it further, which included requesting an autopsy and having the car processed by an evidence technician, according to the Lake in the Hills report.
The Chicago Tribune - Authorities also cited the police call to the Prates’ home days before as another reason to look more closely into the crash. According to an Algonquin police report, Anthony Prate had arrived home that day and heard his wife chatting with a man in the kitchen. He told police that he slipped into a laundry room and listened to them talk for about 20 minutes and were “plotting to kill him,” according to the report.
Prate then confronted the two and called 911, the records show.
“They were having a conversation about who would own the house after I was dead," Prate wrote in a statement for police, reports show. “She was telling him she couldn’t wait for them to be together, and it wouldn’t be long before I was taken care of.”
The man later told police that Bridget Prate was helping him study for a real estate exam and the two had only been discussing procedures for when a homeowner dies. No charges were filed.
Though multiple agencies investigated the car crash over the years, and officials at one point sought a grand jury subpoena to have family members testify, no criminal charges were filed in connection to the crash.
In response to the new allegation, McHenry County prosecutors and Lake in the Hills police announced they would reexamine the circumstances of Bridget Prate’s death. The agencies issued a joint statement following Anthony Prate’s arrest, saying they would "continue to evaluate incoming information for any bearing it may have on the tragic death of Bridget Prate in 2011.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that the “Lake in the Hills police denied a request for records related to the crash, citing an active criminal investigation.
“The ongoing investigation in Cook County related to Mr. Prate has caused this matter to be evaluated and based upon the nature of the offense and stage of the investigation, disclosure of the record would interfere,” village staff wrote in an email.
According to records obtained by the Tribune, police initially investigated the crash for at least 10 months and, along with prosecutors, sought a second pathologist to review Bridget Prate’s injuries. Prosecutors halted efforts to present the case to a grand jury after the second pathologist’s findings conflicted with the first, records show.
When paramedics arrived at the crash scene on March 1, 2011, the Prates’ Nissan Murano was wedged between a tree and a wooden fence near the intersection of Pyott Road and Willow Street, according to police records.
It was about 6:30 p.m. Three bystanders surrounded the car while Anthony Prate attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his wife. She had no pulse and wasn’t breathing, records show. Her head was resting on the front passenger seat, her lower body tucked under the dashboard.
One witness described Anthony Prate as “frantic and shocked." Paramedics ultimately extricated his wife from the vehicle, and she was pronounced dead at Sherman Hospital in Elgin.
Anthony Prate, who suffered minor injuries, told police the couple had been on their way to Crystal Lake to shop for a new television. They’d ordered a pizza for their two young children and left them at home.
While Anthony was driving north on Pyott, Bridget realized she didn’t see her purse and water bottle. She removed her seat belt and turned around to check the back seat.
While Bridget rotated to face forward again, Anthony glanced at her and shifted in his seat to give her more space, he later told police. Anthony said he didn’t recall all the details that followed but that he saw the headlights of an oncoming vehicle just before the front driver wheels of both cars touched, according to police reports.
William Hinde, the driver of the other vehicle, told police he was traveling about 40 mph when the cars made contact. He said Prate’s vehicle suddenly drove into his lane, leaving him no time to get out of the way. It happened in “a split second,” Hinde told police.
Recounting the crash last week, Hinde emphasized just how quickly it occurred. There were no signs Prate’s car was drifting, Hinde said.
“Usually you get a few seconds of a notice, like this is going to happen, but there was none,” he said. “It was so immediate.”
Hinde said he’s wondered about the crash over the years. After reading news coverage about Prate’s recent arrest, Hinde said he thought it was prudent for investigators to revisit the 2011 incident.
“I don’t blame them. I would too,” Hinde said. “If he really did do this, the family needs closure.”
Dr. Mark Witeck conducted Bridget Prate’s autopsy two days after the crash at the Kane County coroner’s office, records show.
The autopsy revealed a fractured vertebra in Prate’s neck, but the injury shouldn’t have killed her, Witeck concluded. Otherwise, he found only minor wounds on her body — a few scratches and bruises — not ones consistent with a major collision.
“There was no evidence of significant injuries or natural disease which caused or contributed to the death," Witeck wrote in an autopsy report obtained by the Tribune.
Unable to pinpoint her cause of death, Witeck wrote it was “undetermined.” He also told police he believed that Bridget was dead prior to the crash, according to a police record. Because he could not find hemorrhaging near the vertebra fracture, he suspected that wound occurred postmortem, police records show. Witeck declined to comment when reached by a reporter last week.
The Police Department and prosecutors then sought a second opinion about Bridget’s death, according to Ashley Eccles, a police spokeswoman for Lake in the Hills. The agencies asked noted pathologist Dr. Larry Blum to take a look.
Blum offered an alternative conclusion. He told investigators that while he “admits there is no clear cause of death,” he believed the vertebra fracture was evidence that Bridget might have died in the crash, according to police reports. She could have suffered a fatal “upper spinal cord concussion” or “positional asphyxia” due to impact, the records said.
Blum did not respond to requests for comment last week. His full report was not available for review.
After Blum shared his findings, prosecutors were reluctant to proceed with the case, records show. They had been trying to arrange an interview with the Prate children but decided against that, records show.
In a January 2012 email, McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs told a Lake in the Hills officer that he didn’t think the interview “would ever produce any information that would result in criminal charges."
Prosecutors dropped the case shortly after that. But it wouldn’t stay closed for long.
Private investigator Bruce Johnson said he was asked to review the case around 2014. As a retired Illinois State Police master sergeant, Johnson had investigated hundreds of death cases and found this one to be unusual for two key reasons.
First, it didn’t make sense to him, based on the force of the vehicles, that Bridget’s body ended up on the floorboards. Her seat had been upright at the time of the crash, according to records. And second, the fact that the cause of death was initially undetermined stood out as a red flag, Johnson said.
“The lack of cause of death in a case like this is pretty rare,” he said. In many fatal car crashes, Johnson said, "pathology and autopsy results usually determine cause of death fairly quickly.” Johnson said he referred the case to ISP for follow up, and the ISP confirmed that it opened its own investigation into the crash in 2015. A spokeswoman said it was turned over to Lake in the Hills without charges filed.
COURT The Patch reported in January 2020 that Bail was set at $3 million Associate Judge Steven Gaebel ruled Thursday that Prate would have to post 10 percent, or $300,000, to be released while awaiting trial, and if released would live with his mother in Tinley Park, wear a GPS device, and have electronic home monitoring, the Daily Herald said.
The next court date is set for April 21,, 2020 at the Rolling Meadows Court House located at 2121 Euclid Ave, Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
OBITUARY MALGORZATA B. DANIEL Born: June 10, 1971 Died: November 23, 2019 St. Michael the Archangel Cemetery, Palatine, IL
Malgorzata “ Margaret” B. Daniel (nee Ostafin), 48, a resident of Schaumburg was born on June 10, 1971 in Poland to the late Stanislaw and Stefania (nee Sliwinska), and passed away on November 23, 2019 in Schaumburg. Margaret worked as a nurse anesthetist at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates. She was incredibly kind and loving to all her patients.
Margaret was the loving mother of Patrycja and Dominika and adoring “fur-mom” to her cats Nala and Alfie; dear friend to many. She will be missed by all those whose lives she touched.
ALGONQUIN – Bridget M. Prate nee LaBanca, 45, of Algonquin, formerly of Oak Forest and Chicago's Roseland area, passed away Tuesday, March 1, 2011.
She was born May 13, 1965.
She was an occupational therapist for Centegra Health Systems and Rehabilitation. She was a graduate of Andrew High School and the University of Illinois.
She was the wife of Anthony Prate for 19 years; mother of Nicolas and Ava Prate; daughter of Donna (nee De Koker) and Frank LaBanca; sister of Holly Swan, Lawrence (Debbie) LaBanca and the late Christopher LaBanca; she was the daughter-in-law of Donna Palma and Daniel Prate. She was a beloved aunt, niece, cousin, sister-in-law, co-worker and dear friend of many.
She will rest from 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at Wait Ross Allanson Funeral & Cremation Service, 201 S. Main St. (Route 31), Algonquin. Friends and family will meet for a 10 a.m. Mass celebration Monday, March 7, at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 111 S. Hubbard St. (at Algonquin Road/Route 62), Algonquin. Interment will be in St. Michael Cemetery, Palatine.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in her name to the charity of your choice would be appreciated by the Prate and LaBanca families.