Ex-MTV Star Still On Lam; Vehicular Hijacking: Top Stories From 2023

NORTHERN LAKE COUNTY, IL — As the year draws to an end, it’s a good time to look back on some of the top news stories from 2023 in northern Lake County.

From a black bear spotted wandering northern Lake County to a vehicular hijacking in Libertyville that left a pregnant mom with injuries and police searching for her car — and her young son who was inside it when they fled — here is a look at the most-read articles on Patch.com for northern Lake County from this past year:

Ex-MTV Star With History Of Targeting Minors Still On The Lam: Police

A nationwide search continues for a former MTV star accused of soliciting sex from a girl who is younger than 15 years old. Earlier this year, authorities in Lake County issued an arrest warrant for Connor N. Smith, who appeared in MTV’s “Are You The One,” in 2015. And as of Wednesday, that arrest warrant remained active and investigators were not aware of Smith’s whereabouts.

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“They are unsure if he is inside our outside of the country, but we are certain he is actively working to avoid apprehension,” Christopher Covelli, deputy chief for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, told Patch.

Charges were filed against Smith in February after detectives in Lake County posed as a minor girl and began communicating with Smith online. During the chats, Smith sent sexually explicit images and videos of himself and made arrangements to meet for a sexual encounter, authorities said.

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Smith appeared in Season 3 of MTV’s “Are You The One,” which is a dating show where contestants are tasked with finding their “perfect match,” with a chance to win $1 million, according to People.com. Smith found his “match” in episode five, but the couple later broke up following filming of the show.

Mom Beaten, Run Over As Man Steals Her SUV With Son Inside: Police

Authorities are looking for a car thief accused of beating a pregnant woman as she tried to get her young child out of the back of her SUV in Libertyville.

The man then stole the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas with the 2-year-old boy still inside, running over the 34-year-old mom as he drove away from the in the 16000 block of Route 137 in Libertyville Thursday afternoon, police said.
The 2-year-old boy was abandoned a short time later in a parking lot at a business in the 2200 block of Lakeside Drive in Waukegan by the suspect, according to a news release from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Passenger Impaled When Car Fleeing Retail Theft Crashes

In March, a passenger in a car fleeing a retail theft in Vernon Hills was critically injured after becoming impaled by a wooden fence during a collision in Mettawa, police said. Authorities say the 2018 Kia Optima was speeding and driving recklessly when it ran a red light at the intersection of Route 60 and Saint Marys Road and hit a 2012 GMC Sierra, which was headed south on Saint Marys Road.

Police: Bear Damages Deck Furniture, Is ‘Likely Hungry’

A “hangry” bear made headlines after it made its rounds in Lake County this past June. The black bear first was spotted near Gurnee Mills in June and then again when it began wandering onto residents’ decks in Antioch. The unwanted visitor demanded some people’s deck furniture, chairs and potted plants.

Man Shoots Brother, Takes Own Life Outside Restaurant Amid Feud: Cops

A feud between two brothers ended with a 63-year-old man shooting his younger bother and then himself outside a Fox Lake restaurant in May. Mario Martinez, 56, who owns Dockers, was found critically injured about 25 yards from a side door at Dockers Restaurant.

Authorities say an investigation revealed the two men previously owned the restaurant together, and on May 16, the older brother, Marciano Martinez, traveled to Dockers to confront his younger brother about an ongoing feud. Police say during the argument, which initially took place in the kitchen, Marciano pulled out a gun and shot his younger brother.

Authorities say he then fatally shot himself outside the restaurant before first responders arrived.

Woman Accused Of Having ATV Removed From Fatal Crash

A Crystal Lake woman, who is accused of arranging to have an ATV removed from the scene of a fatal crash, was arrested this past week. Samantha Jacobson, 45, of the 4900 block of Valley View Road in Crystal Lake, was at a bar in the area of North Lake Shore Drive and Greenwood Avenue in unincorporated Spring Grove, with Glen Luthardt, 56, during the early morning hours of Feb. 7 when Luthardt left the bar on his ATV, police said.

According to officials, Jacobson suggested he not drive, but Luthardt left anyway and crashed his ATV. A witness told authorities the collision occurred when he crossed Grass Lake Road onto Lake Shore Drive and accelerated to a high rate of speed before losing control of the ATV.

Other Top Northern Lake County Stories From 2023

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