By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD — Five arrests have been made in three separate Rockford homicides, officials announced Thursday, Nov. 9.
In total, the defendants face 113 charges, including multiple counts of first-degree murder.
One of homicides is that of 12-year-old Donovan Ruland, shot earlier this year while riding an ATV. Police allege that Ruland was shot by Anthony Jenkins, 16, who was arrested over the summer and initially charged as a juvenile. He is now being charged as an adult with 16 counts of first-degree murder and faces life in prison.
Three suspects have been jailed for a murder that occurred on Dec. 4, 2015, at the Fairgrounds Housing Complex. That’s where officers found Rachel Garrett, 25, dead from an apparent gunshot wound inside an apartment.
Deonta Gunnell, 22; Donnie Williams, 21; and 21-year-old Lonnie Williams have been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm, unlawful use of a firearm by a felon and mob action.
The 700 block of Oakley Avenue was the location of a double homicide in 2015. Police were called there on Jan. 13, and pronounced 28-year-old Benito Martinez dead at the scene. Two other victims were discovered shot inside an SUV. Tarina Mitchell, 22, died at a local hospital. The other victim was treated for non-life threatening injuries and released.
Terrick Mackey, 29, has been charged with 36 counts of murder in the Oakley Avenue shootings as well as aggravated battery with a firearm; aggravated discharge of a firearm; armed habitual criminal; felony possession of a firearm and mob action.
Law enforcement officials said Thursday that while two of the shootings occurred in 2015, detectives worked them thoroughly. They also noted that variables are often at play to prevent cases from moving through the system as swiftly as they’d like.
“Detectives start from A and they work it to Z, no matter what,” Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea said.
Evidence will change along the way O’Shea said. Witnesses decide not to talk, different DNA emerges and investigations are stalled. In the Martinez, Mitchell and Garrett killings, investigators worked through delays to be thorough and accurate before taking suspects into custody.
“Investigations are like a fingerprint,” Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato said. “They are individual and take [whatever] amount of time that is appropriate to complete. We, by no means, want to engage in a rush to judgement. But, we realize that seeking justice as soon as possible is equally important.”
Each case went through the Winnebago County grand jury process, Bruscato said. All suspects are lodged in the Winnebago County Jail. A photo of Anthony Jenkins is not available. R.
— With Associated Press Reports