In early November 2010, a Naperville police officer stopped the driver of a red 2006 Porsche for a seat belt violation.
The officer issued a second ticket to the driver, 43-year-old William A. Howe of Naperville, that night near Rickert Road and Ogden Avenue. It was for transportation of open alcohol. The officer noted "3 empty beer bottles" on the ticket.
Howe didn't show up for court, records show, and was eventually fined.
Three months later, Howe would be charged with driving under the influence of drugs—his third DUI arrest in 12 years. He pleaded not guilty and failed to show up in court at least twice.
Nine months later, Illinois State Police have confirmed that Howe drove his Porsche the wrong way into busy traffic on Interstate-88. The resulting, high-speed crash killed two Elmhurst residents, Sherali Shalwani, 74, and Farzana Ali, 37, both of the 900 block of Virginia Lane, and seriously injured a third.
Witnesses report that Howe was driving erratically, swerving all over the road and throwing handfuls of cash out the window of his Porsche before he used an emergency turnaround near mile marker 130 to enter westbound oncoming traffic.
Howe remains hospitalized and has not been charged with anything related to the crash.
While witnesses have reported seeing money being thrown from the Porsche in the minutes before the crash, court records indicate Howe was in the midst of so much financial turmoil that he asked a judge for a public defender to handle his February DUI case.
"Stopped working 1 year ago," Howe wrote on his application for a public defender. "Was a dentist, stopped because was losing money."
Howe claimed his Naperville home and a 2000 Jeep Wrangler as his only assets on the form, also noting he received $1,170 in disability payments.
In July, the bank initiated a foreclosure on Howe's home, stating he owed $295,331 on a $297,000 mortgage taken out in 2007. Howe also owes the IRS $11,145, according to court documents.
Howe's driving record includes several minor traffic offenses in Kane and DuPage counties to go with the DUI arrests in February, a 2008 stop in Naperville and another from Chicago in 1999, records show.
Naperville police stopped Howe on Fort Hill Road near Aurora Road on Nov. 19, 2008, after he crossed the double yellow line. Howe later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of passing in a no-passing zone and was placed on court supervision.
Howe attempted to have the case expunged from his record, stating in court documents he wanted to have the DUI arrest removed because he was not convicted of it. The Illinois State Police objected twice to the expungement because of Howe's driving history, including the 1999 drunken driving arrest in Chicago, to which he pleaded guilty.
As part of the 2008 DUI case, a judge briefly sent Howe to jail for contempt of court after she thought Howe had sworn at her during court proceedings. The judge relented after Howe wrote an apology, in which he claimed to suffer from Huntington's disease "which is why people sometimes think that I am drunk or on coke," court records show.
"It makes me mumble, shuffle my feet, my balance is bad, and makes me fidgetty and jittery," Howe explained in the letter.
Howe's ex-wife, in divorce filings from 2003, claimed he committed "extreme and repeated mental and physical cruelty" as part of the reason for wanting to end their brief marriage, according to court records. Howe's actions, including being "intoxicated much of the time," were enough for the woman to seek a protective order for herself and her daughter.