Advertisement

Rockford, Illinois stabbing suspect blamed 'laced' marijuana, authorities say

Community members in Rockfield, Illinois gather at a vigil held for victims of the deadly stabbing spree
Community members in Rockfield, Illinois gather at a vigil held for victims of the deadly stabbing spree [Getty Images]

The suspect in a violent killing spree in Rockford, Illinois, partly blames the incident on marijuana he says was "laced" with an unknown drug, authorities say.

Christian Soto was charged on Thursday with 11 counts, including first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Four people were killed and seven injured in the 20-minute spree.

Darlene Weber, a mother who was attacked in her home, described the scene as "like a horror movie".

"It all happened like such a blink of an eye," Ms Weber told NBC News, after describing how Mr Soto allegedly stabbed her in the face.

The victims killed in Wednesday's attack have been identified as 63-year-old Ramona Schupbach, 49-year-old Jay Larson, 23-year-old Jacob Schupbach and 15-year-old Jenna Newcomb.

Detectives investigating the case said the motive of the deadly stabbing spree in the residential Rockford neighbourhood remains unclear.

But authorities said Mr Soto told police that he believed the drugs given to him by his friend were "laced" with "an unknown psychotic".

J Hanley, an Illinois state attorney, told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that Mr Soto said he "became paranoid after the drug usage".

Mr Soto had a short court appearance on Thursday afternoon. He is expected to remain in custody until his detention hearing, which is scheduled for next week.

The BBC has reached out to the local public defender's office, who said Mr Soto had not yet been assigned representation and were unable to comment.

The attack began around 13:15 EST (17:15 GMT) shortly after the suspect arrived at Jacob Schupbach's home, where he said he smoked marijuana, authorities say.

Witnesses speaking to CBS News, the BBC's media partner, said they saw the suspect chasing Jacob across the lawn, hitting and stabbing him before getting into his pickup truck and running him over before Jacob ran back inside.

Jacob and Ramona were later found dead in their home.

Over the span of roughly 20 minutes, police say the suspect travelled around several nearby streets and broke into multiple homes.

During that time, he allegedly encountered postal worker Jay Larson. Witnesses reported seeing Mr Soto stab him multiple times and then run him over with his truck.

Ms Weber said the man who man entered her backyard was covered in blood.

"He looked like the devil incarnate," Ms Weber told NBC.

She alleged the suspect stabbed her in the face before he chased her inside her home as she screamed for help.

Ms Weber said her son, Vollman, saved her by wrestling and fighting with the suspect until he gave up and left.

She called Vollman her "knight in shining armour", saying "I don't think I'd be standing here" now if it were not for him.

Keith Fahrney, one of the people allegedly injured by Mr Soto, told NBC News he was driving home when he saw the suspect attacking a woman and others fleeing.

He said he noticed a woman sitting in her yard and had somebody standing over her. She appeared in distress, so he stopped his car and got out.

After intervening and noticing the woman was covered in blood, Mr Fahrney went back to his vehicle to get his cell phone. At that point, Mr Soto allegedly attacked him, too.

The alleged assailant appeared odd, "like something had taken over his body," Mr Fahrney told the media outlet.

"It's very scary. You never think this is going to happen to you," he said after he was released from the hospital.

Mr Soto is also alleged to have entered the home of Jenna Newcomb through an unlocked door while she was watching a movie with two other girls.

Police said Mr Soto found a baseball bat in the home and attacked the girls in the basement. The teenage girl's mother said her daughter died saving the other two, who suffered bruises, lacerations and broken bones.

State attorney J Hanley said the suspect was apprehended by police as he was attacking and attempting to steal the Jeep of a "Good Samaritan" who had stopped to help one of the final victims on the street.

He said federal charges may also be laid at a later date for the killing of postal worker Jay Larson.