4 Dead in Stabbing Rampage

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A fatal stabbing event that occurred on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, in Rockford, Illinois, resulted in four fatalities and left seven others wounded.

The Winnebago County Coroner’s office identified the victims: 15-year-old Jenna Newcomb; 23-year-old Jacob Schupbach (the suspect’s childhood friend); 49-year-old Jay Larson, and 63-year-old Ramona Schupbach (Jacob’s mother). 

Authorities apprehended the suspect, 22-year-old Christian Soto, at 1:35 pm, soon after they responded to calls from several different locations starting at around 1:14 pm.

The attack spanned multiple locations in Rockford, with the main areas of activity being Cleveland Avenue, Holmes Street, and Eggleston Road, nearby Alpine Road and Harrison Avenue.

Soto, now in custody, is facing several charges including murder and home invasion. State Attorney for Winnebago County, J. Hanley, indicated that further charges are likely to follow when the case is reviewed by a grand jury.

During a discussion with investigators, Soto confessed to the murders, stating he had consumed cannabis which had been mixed with an unidentified substance, leading to his violent outbreak.

Hanley added, “Soto became extremely paranoid following his drug use.” He stated that he fetched a knife from the kitchen of Jacob’s residence and proceeded to fatally stab both Jacob and Ramona. 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. Police finally arrested Soto as a young woman trying to get away was stabbed in the face and hands and seriously wounded. A Good Samaritan who tried to help her also was stabbed during the violent spree.

Eric Patterson, a resident of Cleveland Avenue, saw the aftermath of the incident. He described a scene of two injured teenagers and a woman in her middle years receiving urgent medical care. Patterson also noted signs of a violent altercation involving a mail carrier, with scattered belongings across a lawn, indicating a possible vehicular and subsequent physical assault. The mail carrier, Jay Larson, was stabbed and run over with Soto’s pickup.

Patterson stated, “It’s incomprehensible. It’s akin to navigating a video game, yet this is real life. It defies logic. It’s reminiscent of games like Grand Theft Auto, where one might run over a mailman here, stab individuals there, or invade a house elsewhere. But this reality doesn’t make sense. There’s no rationalizing it.”

The United States Postal Service confirmed that a mail carrier was among the victims of the deadly incident.

Investigators from the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office and the Rockford Police Department cordoned off the area with yellow police tape as they embarked on a meticulous search for evidence and eyewitness testimonies.

Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana commented on a bystander who attempted to detain the suspect as he fled from the initial crime scene and ended up being stabbed. Caruana confirmed, “He’s alright. He’s been thoroughly examined.”

Cleveland Avenue resident Cassandra Hernandez expressed her grief over the incident, conveying her sympathy for Larson and revealing that she was friends with one of the victims. Hernandez stated, “You never anticipate something like this happening here. Just yesterday morning, I was walking my dog in this area… It’s devastating to think it happened with our wonderful neighbors and the mail carrier in our neighborhood. I fear he’s no longer with us; he was such a wonderful man. It’s truly heartbreaking.”

Another neighbor, Ruth Gallagher, spoke warmly about the mail carrier, describing him as exceptionally kind and always willing to help. Gallagher expressed deep sorrow over his loss, stating, ‘We will greatly miss him.'”

Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd stated that not all victims had been stabbed, and there was no gunfire involved in the incident. Redd asked residents to help the investigation by reviewing footage from their home security systems and doorbell cameras, emphasizing the importance of community cooperation.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara expressed deep sorrow in his statement, acknowledging the emotional strain on the community and describing the past week as one of the most challenging during his time as mayor. The mayor’s statement read, in part, “It’s hard to grasp how this could happen and how emotional and raw the community is tonight. Let’s lift each other up and be strong together.”

According to a Facebook post from the City of Rockford Government, a vigil was held for the victims on the afternoon of March 28.

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