Charges dropped against Naperville man accused in Joliet hit-and-run

David H. McCarthy (left) and Melissa Lech. | File photo
David H. McCarthy (left) and Melissa Lech. | File photo

Will County prosecutors dropped criminal charges Thursday against a Naperville man who had been accused of killing a Joliet woman in a 2008 hit-and-run accident and then showing up at her sister’s home 3 1/2 years later claiming responsibility.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges against David McCarthy IV, based on psychologist reports that found he suffers from a mental disorder that caused him to have delusions. Psychologists for the defense and the prosecution both said they found McCarthy to have made a false confession in the death of Melissa Lech of Joliet because of the disorder.

Also, a paint chip from the crime scene did not match McCarthy’s vehicle.

Lech, a University of Illinois student, was 20 when she was hit by a car in August 2008 after leaving a Joliet sports bar. A driver farther down the road told police he saw brake lights go on and the car swerve before he came across her body and called 911, but the other vehicle was gone.

McCarthy rang her sister, Michelle Lech’s, doorbell in February 2012 and allegedly confessed to running over Melissa and leaving the scene. Joliet police arrested him later that day.

McCarthy was charged with hit-and-run and leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death.

The mysterious, fatal hit-and-run case captured local headlines and drew the attention of NASCAR driver Kevin Conway, who featured Melissa Lech’s photo and a plea for information on his car in September 2011 during a nationally televised race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. Conway’s racing team, Nemco Motorsports, started featuring local missing persons cases on the back of his car in 2011.

A wrongful death lawsuit was settled against McCarthy last year.

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