Man charged in Rockford stabbings that left 4 dead, 7 injured

ROCKFORD — Charges have been filed against a man accused of carrying out a stabbing rampage killing four people, including a mail carrier and a 15-year-old girl, and injuring seven others, authorities said Thursday.

Christian I. Soto, 22, of Rockford, was charged with murder, attempted murder and home invasion in connection with the attack Wednesday, Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley announced during a briefing Thursday.

Court and jail records show Soto appeared in court briefly Thursday afternoon and remains held without bond. He is next due in court Tuesday when a judge will determine if he stays in jail pending trial.

Officials identified the victims as Ramona Schupbach, 63; Jacob Schupbach, 23; Jay Larson, 49; and Jenna Newcomb, 15, according to Rockford radio station WIFR.

Larson was a 25-year postal service veteran, said Ruth Mendoza, of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service during the briefing.

“This tragedy occurred while he was doing his job,” Mendoza said. “Jay was doing what he loved, serving his community.”

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara announced the names of the dead.

“Jenna’s mom wants the community to know that Jenna died saving her sister and her friend and protecting them from further harm,” the mayor said.

“These are dark days, but we are Rockfordians and we will get through this,” the mayor said.

“Be kind to your neighbors and be thoughtful with words,” McNamara said. “If the last couple of days doesn’t show you … life is just far too short to speak hate.”

Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd said one victim remains in critical condition.

“My heart goes out to the families right now that are suffering a loss,” Redd told reporters earlier.

President Joe Biden said in a statement Thursday that he and first lady Jill Biden were “horrified to learn of the brutal attack carried out in Rockford,” and that they were “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.”

Redd said Soto acted alone and that police do not know his motive for the attacks. She said less than 20 minutes passed between the initial 911 call and Soto’s arrest.

She said Soto and Jacob Schupbach had grown up together. Soto told police that the two were smoking marijuana at Schupbach’s home before the attack, Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley said.

“Soto said that he believes that drugs provided to him by Jacob were laced with an unknown narcotic,” Hanley said. “Soto said he became paranoid after the drug usage. He said he retrieved a knife from the kitchen … and proceeded to stab” his friend and his friend’s mother to death.

Clearly distraught, McNamara spoke of how the slayings have disrupted his community.

“Right now, the focus is on these individuals who have lost their lives this week,” he added. “Their families, making sure they’re getting healing that they need.”

“You might hear grief and sadness from me,” the mayor said. “I’m also really pissed off.”

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 stabbings Wednesday came just days after a teenage employee was stabbed and killed inside a Walmart in the city. A suspect in that killing has been arrested.

Local faith leaders hosted a vigil for the victims Thursday afternoon.

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