Michael Mernack Facing Murder Charges for Teen’s Death


Michael Mernack has spent the past month in a half recovering after a police-involved shooting when officials say he didn’t drop his gun. The deputy’s use of deadly force is under investigation. Now, Mernack can walk again, right into Winnebago County Jail.

“A 13 count complaint has been charged and filed against Michael E. Mernack,” said Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato.

Among those charges, 10 counts of first degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery and home invasion. In December 2016, Mernack allegedly shot and stabbed 16-year-old Rebecca Finkenhofer and shot her 63-year-old grandmother. It’s among the cases that Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana says stands out.

“The fact that just it was a domestic violence issue, we have domestic violence problems in the region of Winnebago County,” said Caruana. “It spurs us to say how quickly can we get there and what does that model look like when we get there.”

Bruscato says having services available from the moment something occurs and throughout the process will help handle cases.

“Domestic violence is something that we are struggling with, we have been making big strides here locally with changes in the courthouse to streamline it, make it more efficient, make it more available to those who are victims of domestic violence,” said Bruscato. “We’re not going to rest until the issues involving domestic violence are addressed and taken care of so that citizens can say that they feel safer.”

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