Investigation of Joliet woman’s homicide still active

Police have not said what role an arrested man allegedly had in March 31 incident

Police are still investigating the death of a 56-year-old woman and it remains unclear what role a recently arrested man may have had in the incident.

Ben Rockett, 69, has been in the Will County jail since Thursday after he was brought to the Joliet Police Department for questioning regarding the death of Sonja Underwood at a residence in the 200 block of South Illinois Street.

Underwood died March 31 after she suffered a gunshot wound. Police are investigating her death as a homicide, according to the Will County Coroner’s Office.

Police have not said what role, if any, Rockett had in Underwood’s death.

Joliet police Sgt. Dwayne English said on Tuesday that the investigation is still active and the case is under review by the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Rockett was supposed to make his second appearance in court on Tuesday but Judge Brian Barrett was informed that he had been hospitalized. Rockett’s case was rescheduled for April 27.

Landlord Sue Reynolds said Rockett lived in the same residence with Underwood on Illinois Street and the two were in a relationship. Reynolds said Underwood was a “nice woman” and a “sweetheart” who was very calm and soft-spoken.

“It’s so sad. She was really a nice lady,” Reynolds said.

Rockett first appeared in court on Friday after Judge Dave Carlson signed a warrant for his arrest that carried a $1 million bond.

The warrant was issued after Rockett was charged with the offense of armed habitual criminal and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon by felon.

The charges alleged that Rockett possessed a .38-caliber revolver and ammunition for that gun on Wednesday after he was convicted of burglary in a 2000 case and second-degree murder in 1991 case.

Judge Domenica Osterberger ordered Rockett’s bond to remain at the $1 million amount on Friday, court records show.

The most serious charge against Rockett is armed habitual criminal, a class X felony punishable by 6 to 30 years in prison.

Rockett was one of five men who were arrested on Dec. 27, 2000, after they were caught by officers unloading 42 televisions and three computer monitors from a Union Pacific boxcar in Joliet, according to story in The Herald-News.

Rockett, Artemion Riley and Tyrone Stamps were charged with burglarizing the boxcar.

Rockett was 48 at the time and Riley and Stamps were 22. All three men pleaded guilty to burglary, court records show.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News