Rockford stabbing spree: Suspect faces slew of charges, including first-degree murder

A man is facing a slew of murder charges after a stabbing spree in Rockford left four people dead and seven others injured on Wednesday.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley said Thursday that 22-year-old Christian Soto appeared in court to hear his charges.

Soto is being held in jail without bond and is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder and home invasion with a dangerous weapon. 

Three people remained hospitalized Thursday – of the three victims, a woman and a man are in medically-induced comas and in critical condition, officials said. The other four were treated and released, Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd said.

On Wednesday, Rockford police were called at 1:14 p.m. to multiple addresses on Holmes Street, Winnetka Drive and Cleveland Avenue. There, they located multiple victims who were stabbed.

Three victims were pronounced dead at the scene, according to officials. Another victim was transported to an area hospital in critical condition but later died from their injuries.

Soto was taken into custody about 20 minutes after police were called. He lives in the neighborhood where the incident occurred, and resides only five houses down from the first home that was attacked.

According to a neighbor, Soto may have been on drugs and hallucinating during the stabbing rampage.

The four deceased victims were identified Thursday by the mayor of Rockford. They are: 

  • 15-year-old Jenna Newcomb
  • 23-year-old Jacob Schupbach
  • 49-year-old Jay Larson
  • 63-year-old Ramona Schupbach

One of the victims was a mail carrier who worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 25 years, officials confirmed. The postal worker was reportedly run over by a vehicle and then stabbed.

"Postal inspectors are working with the Rockford Police Department in this investigation," agency spokesperson Michael Martel said in an email.

Soto and Schupbach knew each other after they grew up together, according to officials. 

Newcomb tragically died after trying to protect her loved ones. 

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

Police said there was "no clear motive" in the stabbing spree. Soto's criminal history includes minor traffic offenses.

The stabbings came just days after a teenage employee was stabbed and killed inside a Walmart in the city.

The city of Rockford held a vigil for the victims on Thursday hosted by local faith leaders.

Residents in the neighborhood and loved ones of the victims will have access to emotional support and counseling services free of charge at Flinn Middle School at these certain times/locations:

  • 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Friday, March 29

President Joe Biden issued a statement on the Rockford tragedy Thursday afternoon, shared below: 

"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."

Anyone with more information on the incident is urged to contact Rockford PD at 815-966-2900. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 815-963-7867.

Rockford, home to about 150,000 people, is about 90 miles northwest of Chicago. Its economy was decimated by industrial change in the 1980s and now largely depends on manufacturing and healthcare.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.