Riverside Man Slashed Ex-Wife's Tires, Found With 74 Knives: Police

A west suburban man who had 74 separate knives in his vehicle has been charged after he slashed his ex-wife’s tires while she watched their daughter’s softball game Thursday evening in Riverside, police said.

Howard J. Lavaty, 55, followed his ex-wife to the parking lot at Riverside Brookfield High School, then waited until she left her vehicle to cut the tires, according to a statement from Riverside police. Lavaty had taken his mentally disabled son’s phone and used the “Find Me” iPhone application to find his ex-wife.

When she went back to her vehicle about 7:40 p.m., the woman called police and informed the officer that she had been having troubles with her ex-husband, police said. She gave the officer his information and vehicle information. After a review of the high school’s surveillance footage, she identified the suspect as her ex-husband.

At the time of the incident, she had a valid order of protection, police said.

On Friday, police traced his phone to a restaurant in the 5200 block of South La Grange Road in Countryside, authorities said. Detectives arrested Lavaty without incident while he was eating lunch.

Once in custody and shown video evidence, Lavaty gave a full confession, police said. He said he was stalking his ex-wife because she had a new boyfriend who he did not like. Police said he also admitted to using his son’s phone to track his ex-wife.

A search of Lavaty’s vehicle recovered a Dasiy BB air pistol under the driver’s seat and 74 separate knives, including the one used to cut the tires, according to police. He never entered school property and was never in the school building at any time.

For the two weeks before his arrest, he was staying at a rehab center in the 2800 block of South California Avenue in Chicago, police said. Lavaty was charged with one count of felony violation of order protection and one count of criminal damage to property.

Lavaty has been ordered held in Cook County Jail on a $25,000 bond, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office. He is due back in court on May 11.

He has been arrested twice before for domestic battery, twice for violations of protection orders and once for aggravated battery to police officers and firefighters, police said.

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