Trial of man accused of shooting and stabbing a Machesney Park teen is underway


Michael Mernack is accused of killing 16-year-old Rebecca Finkenhofer in December of 2016. He faces a long list of charges, including nearly a dozen counts of murder.

It was a somber atmosphere inside a court room at the Winnebago County Court House on Tuesday as the family of Finkenhofer sat and listened as the prosecution made their case against the man accused of killing her.

In December 2016, Mernack allegedly shot and stabbed his ex-girlfriend’s 16-year-old daughter and then shot her 63-year-old grandmother in the face.

“I heard somebody running up the stairs and this guy popped into the room, said my name, and he shot me in the face,” Cheryl Puckett remembers.

An almost unrecognizable Mernack watched closely as prosecutors presented the jury with the weapons he allegedly used to kill the 16-year-old and critically injure her grandmother.

Also in the home that night was Rebecca’s then 6-year-old sister Allysa. She was hiding in her room, under the covers. Her life was spared because the alleged gun Mernack used failed to fire.

A kitchen-style steak knife and a handgun, both recovered from the crime scene, were presented in court today.

Mernack himself was shot by police officers when they say he refused to obey commands to drop his weapon.

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