submitted photo. 10/02/08 Melissa Lech, of Joliet, died of blunt head trauma on McDonough Street in early August, the apparent victim of a hit-and-run driver. There are still no answers to why Melissa would have been walking along the street late at night after leaving City of Champions, a sports bar and grill on Jefferson Street .

Details of hit-and-run driver’s life murky since fatal crash

SHARE Details of hit-and-run driver’s life murky since fatal crash
SHARE Details of hit-and-run driver’s life murky since fatal crash

With the ring of a doorbell, David H. McCarthy IV ended 3½ years of hiding that started when he allegedly drove his car into 20-year-old Melissa Lech and killed her.

Her family had been hunting for the driver ever since Lech’s death in August 2008. Their search ended when McCarthy tracked down Lech’s sister and confessed at her kitchen table Feb. 26 in Joliet.

But it’s still not clear what McCarthy did with his life after his car left the crime scene. He’s being held in the Will County Jail – unavailable for comment – and his family won’t say much.

But records suggest things didn’t go well for the Marquette University graduate and son of a Naperville attorney.

Since Lech’s death, McCarthy has been charged with DUI and assaulting a family member. The address on his driving record apparently belongs to a facility for the homeless and mentally ill.

And he signed an affidavit Monday that said he makes $110 a month, despite successfully finishing college with a double major nearly six years ago. He claims to work at an area pizza restaurant, according to the affadavit.

Facebook posts under his name remark on topics like the selection of an NBC news show host, a book’s translation to film, and an Auburn Tigers hoodie bought on eBay.

The same profile’s been used to promote the law practice of McCarthy’s father, Naperville attorney David McCarthy. The elder McCarthy has been the family’s lone spokesman since his son’s arrest, offering his sympathies Monday to Melissa Lech’s family.

The elder McCarthy said this week his family would stick by that expression of sympathy, and not expand on it, “for the foreseeable future.”

His comments came after his son stunned the Lech family by showing up at the Joliet home of Michelle Lech and confessing that he ran over the University of Illinois student on Aug. 7, 2008, on McDonough Street in Joliet and drove away.

Prosecutors used the story he told Michelle Lech to seek a $1 million bail for McCarthy, which Will County Judge Marzell Richardson granted. They told the judge McCarthy claimed he stopped after he hit Melissa but left knowing she was alive and seriously injured.

If McCarthy is the man who ran down Melissa Lech, his guilty conscience might truly have weighed on him ever since. Marquette University officials say he successfully majored in history and political science, minoring in theology, and graduated with those degrees in spring 2006.

But he started getting in trouble in 2009. Six months after Lech’s death, McCarthy was arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery. Records show he punched his brother on Feb. 27, 2009, giving him a bloody nose, and put him in a headlock.

His bond was revoked in April 2009 when he failed to appear for court. He pleaded guilty two months later and was sentenced to two years on probation.

Police also charged him with DUI after a Naperville traffic stop on March 27, 2010. Prosecutors added a reckless driving count later that year, and he pleaded guilty to that charge in February 2011. He got a year of court supervision.

Probation reports show McCarthy had mental health problems. Doctors prescribed a drug for bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia in May 2010. He enrolled in an anger management program.

He seemed to be doing better by June 13, when a report noted “since engaging in mental health treatment it appears the defendant has made some positive behavioral changes.” It also said he’d “maintained his sobriety since beginning to address his mental health issues and taking his medication.”

An asset statement from May 2010 said he was single, had no children, no job and no income. A handwritten note in the court records said he was “staying at PADS,” a not-for-profit agency that helps the homeless.

According to records at the Secretary of State’s office, McCarthy lists an address in Wheaton on his driver’s license. An office worker at the red-brick apartment building wouldn’t give her name, but she said it’s a facility for the homeless and mentally ill. She said it’s funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and takes referrals from PADS.

But Will County court records show McCarthy’s been living at his parents’ home on a Naperville cul-de-sac.

No one claiming to be a family member could be found when McCarthy appeared before Judge Richardson for bond court Monday, though, and McCarthy said he might only be able to raise $1,500 to get out of jail. He needs $100,000.

Contributing: Bill Bird and Dan Rozek

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