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Eye Doctor Accused of Killing Girlfriend Lost Wife in Odd Way

Bridget Prate's 2011 death is being reexamined
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2019 11:05 AM CST
Updated Dec 15, 2019 1:45 PM CST

(Newser) – Illinois optometrist Anthony Prate is currently sitting in Cook County Jail following the Nov. 23 death of his girlfriend. The two reportedly fought in her Schaumburg home following a dinner party, and authorities allege the 55-year-old stabbed Malgorzata "Margaret" Daniel as many as 30 times before calling 911. He's been charged with first-degree murder—and police are now poking around another death to try to determine, once and for all, whether Prate had a hand in it.

  • That would be the 2011 death of his 45-year-old wife, Bridget Prate. The Chicago Tribune reports the two were in the car together when Anthony suddenly drove into incoming traffic, clipped a car, and then hit a tree. He told police Bridget had removed her seat belt to look for her purse. She was found crumpled on the floor of the front seat.

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  • But some elements caused police to pause: Just days prior, Anthony had called 911, saying he overheard Bridget and another man talking in their kitchen, which he thought was about a plot to kill him. When police arrived, Bridget said nothing was amiss (the man told police he was prepping for a real estate exam and they were talking about the implications of a homeowner's death).
  • After Bridget's death, a pathologist ended up ruling her cause of death as undetermined, saying the fractured vertebra in her neck shouldn't have been a fatal injury; ditto the remaining scratches and bruises on her body, nor did he find any natural cause for her death. Per a police report, he said he suspected Bridget was dead prior to the crash.
  • A second pathologist was then consulted and said it was possible the crash did kill her, perhaps via an "upper spinal cord concussion" or "positional asphyxia."
  • The Daily Herald reports Bridget's family was unconvinced and hired a private investigator in 2014. Bruce Johnson, formerly a master sergeant with the Illinois State Police, described the death—one allegedly caused by a low-impact crash in which no fatal injury was found by a pathologist—as "one in a million."
  • McHenry County prosecutors ultimately decided not to move forward with the case; they now say they will work with Lake in the Hills police to "continue to evaluate incoming information for any bearing it may have on the tragic death of Bridget Prate in 2011."
  • As for Daniel's death, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that while neighbors were over for dinner, prosecutors say the subject of death came up. It reportedly bothered 55-year-old Prate, who left the room for a while. They allege that as the guests left around midnight, Daniel apologized for Prate's behavior, which he said wasn't necessary for her to do. The 911 call was made roughly 30 minutes later.
(Read more car crash stories.)

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