Investigators say Ari Squire, right, wanted to use Sandy Lively, left, as a body double in his scheme for millions in life insurance.
One year ago, a young man named Justin Newman was found murdered in northwest suburban Lake Barrington. The motive -- millions in life insurance. The killer needed a body double to fake his own death, investigators said, but Newman was not his first choice.
The victim was supposed to be another man -- a dead ringer for the killer.
Sandy Lively almost missed the warning signs. The danger ahead was something a quiet family man would never expect.
"I got a boy that's 16 and a daughter that's gonna be 11 ... and my wife ... they're everything. That's what I live for," Lively said.
And one day last year, Lively believes he almost died for them.
Investigators say Lively was the target of a twisted plot that began at the Home Depot where he works.
One of Lively's customers offered to double his salary if he'd quit and come work construction, he said. A carpenter by trade, he was excited by a chance to better support his family with a guaranteed income of $60,000.
The first warning sign was the job application.
"It's questions that you just don't ask on an application," he said. "My color of my eyes, my tattoos, where they're at, what they're of, piercings, ATM PIN numbers, routing number."
Then one day at the store he noticed the man from a distance.
"(He was) staring at me."
When Lively didn't follow through on the job, he said the man got mad, called him up and cussed him out.
Finally, Lively said he agreed to meet at the man's Lake Barrington home, but that day he overslept. It was the same morning a fire broke out in the man's garage. Firefighters found a badly burned body inside. An ID card in a pocket identified the body as Ari Squire, the man who'd tried to hire Lively over the phone.
Investigators determined the burned body wasn't Squire's. DNA tests identified the victim as 20-year-old Justin Newman, another Home Depot worker who authorities say Squire lured into a trap when Lively didn't show.
"I just never realized that he was ... that he looked like me. And it's amazing that he grew a beard the same time I grew a beard," Lively said. "With the beard we look identical, almost."
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said Squire is "an evil, sadistic human being without a conscience."
Squire went to Home Depot looking for an identity to steal, a dead ringer to kill so that $5 million in life insurance could be collected, Curran said.
Eight days after Newman's murder, police caught up with Squire at a motel in Missouri, but he killed himself before officers could make an arrest. Squire's wife was the beneficiary of the insurance, authorities said. It has not been paid out.
They are still investigating the case.