Sterling teen says voices told him to shoot 84-year-old

16-year old charged with two counts of first-degree murder

The Whiteside County sheriff department investigates a fatal shooting that took place at 9:30 a.m. at 20775 Hickory Hills Road Monday, April 18, 2022.

STERLING – The 16-year-old Sterling boy fled, dropping his shotgun and removing his shoes, before running through the cold to a neighbor’s home and knocking on the door to tell him he just shot someone – as the voices told him to do.

That’s according to testimony Tuesday afternoon from Whiteside County Sheriff’s Detective Jed Renkes, lead investigator in the death of Jaime Garcia, 84.

Garcia was shot in the head and killed Monday morning in the home in the 20000 block of Hickory Hills Road north of town that he and the boy shared with other family members.

The teen, whom SVM will not identify because he is charged as a juvenile, is facing two counts of first-degree murder, and if convicted, will be in the custody of the state Department of Juvenile Justice until he turns 21, in a little more than 4 years.

Whiteside County sheriff John Booker works at the scene of a fatal shooting that took place at 9:30 a.m. north of Sterling Monday, April 18, 2022.

In the meantime, he will be held in the Mary Davis Detention Home in Galesburg while his case proceeds, rather than in his parents’ custody, as his attorney, Daniel Huffman, requested.

According to Renkes’ testimony at the teen’s detention hearing Tuesday, which was drawn from various interviews:

A woman in the house heard Garcia, who was in a second-floor room next to her, call for help. She ran out of the room to see Garcia and the boy struggling down the stairs.

Garcia grabbed the boy as if to stop him, they broke apart, and she heard the gunshot and saw the boy’s eyes “get real big” before he ran out the back door with the shotgun. She did not see him pull the trigger.

Others were in the home at the time; someone called 9-1-1. It was 9:04 a.m.

The boy ran to the home of neighbor Anthony Nash, who lives in the 20000 block of Ridge Road, about a mile behind the Hickory Hills Road home. According to Nash, “a young man knocked on his door and said voices in his head told him to shoot someone.”

Nash called 9-1-1, then sat down on the front steps with the boy until an officer arrived. The teen was wearing a sweatshirt and was barefoot; he did not have a weapon.

He was arrested at 9:34 a.m.

Police later found the shotgun, several rounds of ammo and the boy’s shoes in a nearby field.

Investigators search a field near the scene of a fatal shooting Monday, April 18, 2022 north of Sterling.

The boy himself was uncommunicative, not disclosing any information or answering questions when interviewed by investigators. He did write a note to a detective, asking “Am I going to be OK?”

He asked for an attorney, and the interview ended.

According to his parents, “he hadn’t been speaking much in the past couple of weeks,” only answering yes and no, and they had taken him out of school because of his anxiety. He was not on medication, Renkes testified.

Huffman argued that this was “a 16-year-old boy with at least some evidence of mental health issues” when he asked Judge Trish Senneff to consider releasing him to the custody of his parents.

“For his safety and the safety of others,” however, Senneff ruled he be detained at the juvenile facility, Mary Davis.

Throughout the short hearing, the boy sat quietly next to Huffman, looking around occasionally, his face solemn and pale under his shock of thick, disheveled, curly black hair.

He never spoke, and only nodded the few times Senneff asked him directly if he understood the proceedings.

He has a pretrial hearing May 3.

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Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.