By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – Two Rockford neighborhoods were scenes of homicides last week, prompting two city officials to repeat the importance of dealing with violent crime swiftly and effectively.
“Although we are making progress, and month-over-month we are down 16 percent in violent crime, there is still too much crime,” Mayor Tom McNamara said. “We have a lot of work to do. We aren’t going to fix this in one day or even one year. It’s going to take a concerted effort.”
The first homicide occurred last Friday morning at 2713 Norway Pines Road. There, police found 42-year-old Elizabeth Marquez dead from apparent stab wounds. Her husband, 50-year-old Noe Marquez, and their two children were also located inside the home. Marquez was taken into custody and booked into the Winnebago County Jail after being treated for injuries at a local hospital.
During their initial homicide investigation, detectives learned that Noe Marquez was a suspect in a domestic-violence incident that occurred June 28 at the same address. In that case, police say he attacked his wife with a running chainsaw. As a result of that incident, charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and aggravated domestic battery were pending the day Elizabeth was killed.
Two counts of first-degree murder and two additional charges of aggravated domestic battery were filed against Noe Marquez Tuesday. He is currently being held on a $10 million bond.
“This highlights the need for our Office on Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking,” the mayor added. “We are on the right track. But we need a family justice center to make sure survivors have an avenue to get out of violent situations so two young kids don’t have to hear their mother being murdered.”
In the early hours of Saturday, July 8, police responded to the Churchill’s Grove neighborhood and located 37-year-old Chucky “Mazzi” Laster suffering from a gunshot wound. Witnesses say Laster was shot near the 1500 block of Harlem Boulevard and retreated to a residence on Sherman Street. He later died at the hospital.
Details of the shooting are still limited, and no suspect information is available as of this report.
Third Ward Ald. Chad Tuneberg lives near the scene and just returned from vacation when he heard gunfire, something uncommon for one of Rockford’s oldest neighborhoods.
“Fortunately, due to the vigilance of residents of the Churchill’s Grove neighborhood, (investigators) do have some leads to go on,” Tuneberg said. “On the other hand, there are individuals out there who know who did this and will not come forward, not out of fear of retribution, but because of some erroneous mindset that they are ‘snitching.’ I would like to think that these individuals are smart enough to know that they are just perpetuating the violence in our community by not cooperating.”
There have now been 11 homicides in the city this year. Nearly all them, according to the mayor, can be linked to domestic violence. McNamara added that out of 366 juveniles arrested for violent crimes in the last two years, 75 percent self-reported that they had violence in their own homes or were the direct recipients of violence.
“Domestic violence spurs the normalization of criminal activity, which spurs more crime,” he said.
The Rockford Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance and would like to encourage anyone with information regarding these crimes to call the Rockford Police Department at 815-966-2900. R.