Man faces multiple murder charges in Rockford, Illinois stabbing attack that left 4 dead, 7 injured

Rockford, Illinois mourns four people killed in rampage

ROCKFORD, Ill. (CBS) — A man has been charged in connection with an attack in Rockford that left four people dead, including the suspect's childhood friend and a teenager, the county prosecutor said Thursday. 

The Winnebago County Coroner's office identified the victims: 15-year-old Jenna Newcomb; 23-year-old Jacob Schupbach; 49-year-old Jay Larson, and 63-year-old Ramona Schupbach. 

Seven others were injured during that rampage that started around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday. Police said some of the victims were stabbed, and three girls were beaten with a baseball bat while they were watching a movie on spring break.

TIMELINE: Fatal stabbings in Rockford, Illinois: What we know so far

Officials on Thursday confirmed Christian Ivan Soto, 22, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted first-degree murder, and three counts of home invasion. He is being held in the Winnebago County Jail without bond. 

Winnebago County State's Attorney J. Hanley said he expected additional charges once the case was presented to a grand jury. In an interview with detectives, Soto admitted to the killings and claimed he had smoked marijuana laced with an unknown drug that caused him to go on the rampage, Hanley said.  

Hanley detailed Soto's violent 20-minute spree that started with fatally stabbing his childhood friend, Jacob, and that friend's mother, Ramona. Then he fatally stabbed and ran over a mail carrier, Larson, with his pickup. 

"Soto says he became paranoid after the drug usage," said  He said that he retrieved a knife from the kitchen from Jacob's house, and proceeded to stab Jacob and Ramona to death."

Jacob and Ramona Schupbach Family Photos

He continued by breaking into multiple homes and attacking three teenage girls with a bat – killing one of them, Jenna Newcomb, 15. He was arrested while stabbing his last two victims, who were hospitalized with serious injuries.

"They were doing what we all do – what you should all be doing. It's spring break. You have three girls watching a movie?" said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. "I can't even comprehend that."

McNamara said Jenna "died saving her sister and friend, protecting them from further harm."

Man charged in connection with Rockford, Illinois stabbing attack that left 4 dead, 7 injured

Calls for police and paramedics were soon coming in at multiple scenes in Rockford and surrounding parts of Winnebago County.

Emergency responders located new victims on their way to each residence.   

Police finally arrested Soto as a young woman trying to get away was stabbed in the face and hands and seriously wounded, Hanley said. A Good Samaritan who tried to help her also was stabbed during the violent spree.

"It's just devastation for all of us," said Rockford resident Ruth Gallagher. "It's a blur. It's just a nightmare."

Gallagher said her longtime mailman, who authorities later identified as Larson, was among the dead.

A witness, Craig Garr, tried to distract Soto while Soto was allegedly attacking Larson right in front of Garr's very house.

"I said, 'What are you doing?' You know, I startled him, and he said, 'He stole money from me.' I just shook my head. I said, 'You've got to be kidding me,'" Garr said. "And he acted very delusional, like he's on drugs. Kind of glassy eyes and everything, you know, he's out of his mind."

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service said the letter carrier had been delivering mail in Rockford for 25 years.  

"The mail carrier, he was the kindest person. He would help anybody; would step in and help, always friendly," said Gallagher. "We will miss him."

Police confirmed Thursday that no other offenders were involved in the attack. 

Suspect charged in Rockford, Illinois rampage that left 4 dead, 7 injured

"This cuts you at the root," Rockford police chief says of violent rampage

On Thursday, dozens gathered near the scene of the attack to mourn the four lives that were lost. The vigil included local faith leaders and politicians.

Among the speakers was Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd, who said her department is hurting.

"This cuts you at the root. I can't imagine what the families are going through," Redd said. "The officers that had to be the first ones on scene, and see the victims in those conditions – this is not easy."

Counseling services were available Thursday at Flinn Middle School. Police confirmed Thursday that extra counselors have been asked to assist with the services.

"That love and compassion that we see here today – let's carry this out into the rest of our days in Rockford, because we are better when we are together," said Mayor McNamara.

Late Thursday, President Joe Biden issued this statement about the Rockford attack:

"Jill and I were horrified to learn of the brutal attack carried out in Rockford last night, which took the lives of four people, including one fifteen-year-old. Seven others were tragically wounded as a result of this senseless violence. We are praying for the families of those who lost loved ones, and hoping that all those injured make a full recovery. We are also grateful for the heroic actions of local law enforcement, who confronted the suspect and prevented the loss of more innocent life.

"Federal law enforcement have offered all available assistance to local law enforcement as they investigate this heinous act. In the meantime, my Administration will do everything in its power to help the people of Rockford and the broader community recover from this traumatic event. 

"Families across America want the same thing: the freedom to feel safe in their community. That is my priority and the reason we've made major investments to provide communities with resources and law enforcement officers to prevent and fight crime. This tragic event is a reminder that we must continue to ensure that our police and first responders have the support they need to do their jobs and keep us safe."

Soto's next court date is next week.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 60 years in prison for each murder.

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