Handyman beat coworker with hammer, left him for dead in job site crawlspace: prosecutors

CHICAGO — Prosecutors say a handyman viciously beat a co-worker with a hammer, stole the victim’s firearm, ditched his body in the crawlspace of a home they were remodeling, and left him for dead. But, the alleged victim was discovered by another worker and, while badly injured, successfully identified the attacker.

The horrifying allegations were laid out during a detention hearing for 31-year-old Stephan Sander, who was jailed to await trial by Judge Kelly McCarthy.

Sander has known the 61-year-old victim for 20 years and has worked as a laborer for him on plumbing jobs for several years, prosecutors explained. On November 9, they went to a job site in the 9400 block of South Sangamon to work on bathroom plumbing at a home remodeling project.

At about 1:15 p.m., another man who was working on an exterior fence suddenly heard screaming and cries for help coming from inside the home. Sander allegedly dashed from the front door.

The fencing contractor went inside.

“He saw blood everywhere and heard [the victim] calling out from under the floor in the crawlspace,” the state’s detention proffer said. He called the job supervisor, telling him someone was “stuck” in the crawlspace and asking how to access the area.

Upon entering the space, he found the victim lying in a pool of blood and guided him out, officials said.

Prosecutors described horrific injuries inflicted upon the man, who had been struck in the head and face more than 25 times. He was unable to speak and underwent skull and brain surgery four days after the attack.

Chicago police officers, fearing he may “face complications” from surgery, spoke to the victim on the day before he underwent the procedure and learned what happened.

Stephan Sander | Chicago Police Department

He recalled being bent over, working on pipes, and asking Sander to pass him a hammer, prosecutors said. Sander picked up the tool and began hitting the man in the face and head “nonstop” until he “fell out,” they continued. He remembered being partly conscious as he was dragged or carried through the home and being “dropped into a hole in the floor that was used to access the crawlspace.”

The man also told the officers that the firearm he carried was missing.

Police officers recently staked out Sander’s home and arrested him as he stepped outside. They said he was carrying the victim’s loaded handgun in a holster on his waistband. He also carried a second firearm, which was not loaded, according to the allegations.

Prosecutors said Sander admitted to “being frustrated with” the victim, to being at the worksite on the day of the attack, and to taking the victim’s gun. But he denied any involvement in or knowledge of the victim’s injuries.

The victim is still undergoing treatment. He has metal plates in his head, a broken jaw, and a cast on his right hand, which was broken.

Sander is charged with attempted first-degree murder, armed robbery, armed habitual criminal, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and possessing a stolen firearm.

About Tim Hecke 214 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com