UPDATE: Cause of Death Released in Murder of Teen in Machesney Park


UPDATE (12/29):  The Winnebago County Coroner’s Office has released the cause of death of 16-year-old Rebecca Finkenhofer.

The Coroner says she died of ‘multiple blunt and sharp force injuries’.  Initially, investigators told Eyewitness News she was shot to death.  Finkenhofer was shot, but the Coroner says that’s not how she died.  ____________________________________________________________________________________

UPDATE: Police have named Michael Mernack, 36, as the suspect in the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old girl, identified as Rebecca Finkenhofer, in Machesney Park early Wednesday morning.

Mernack is currently hospitalized in Rockford due to gunshot wounds suffered from police when they arrived on scene. Police say they opened fire on Mernack as they approached him Wednesday morning, when he pointed a gun at them.

He is listed in life-threatening condition. If he survives, he will be charged with aggravated assault. Further charges are pending an investigation. Neighbors and friends of the victim say that Mernack had been in a relationship with Finkenhofer’s mother.

Finkenhofer was pronounced dead at the scene. Her grandmother, 63, is currently being treated in the ICU of University of Madison Hospital for life-threatening injuries. Police believe Mernack shot her in the face.

Mernack has a long rap sheet. He is currently facing two charges filed in November, a domestic battery charge and an aggravated assault charge.

He has four orders of protection listed against him, all within the last year. The most recent was issued on December 19th. Another, issued in November, appears to have been filed by Finkenhofer’s mother.

In 2000, Mernack was charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm. In 2003, he pled guilty twice to burglary. In 2005, he pled guilty to domestic battery. Finally, in 2009, he pled guilty to knowingly damaging property between $300 and $10,000.

The Winnebago-Boone County Integrity Task Force is conducting an investigation into the use of deadly force on Mernack by two Winnebago County deputies.

Eyewitness News will continue to provide updates as they’re made available.


A 16-year-old girl is dead and her grandmother is shot following a reported domestic dispute in Machesney Park which led to an officer-involved shooting of a suspect.

Police say the suspect was shot by Winnebago County deputies when they arrived at a home in the 1000 block of Minns Dr. around 12:30 a.m. this morning. Police say the suspect is an adult male and is being treated at a local hospital.

Police remain on scene investigating.

We will bring you the latest information when it becomes available.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest News Video

Trending Stories