Berkeley Hills stabbing spree suspect charged with murder, attempted murder

Three people were stabbed — one fatally — on Saturday afternoon

Prosecutors in Alameda County filed murder and other felonies against a man accused of killing one person and injuring two others in a weekend stabbing spree in the Berkeley Hills on Tuesday.

Along with the murder charge, Jonah Jeremiah Roper, 36, is charged with two counts of attempted murder in Saturday’s attacks in a wooded neighborhood just a few blocks from Tilden Park.

Roper is also charged with first-degree residential burglary and eluding a police officer, as well as a number of sentencing enhancements. Some enhancements are based on previous convictions for burglary, robbery, or battery on a custodial officer.

He was being held without bail at the Santa Rita Jail on Wednesday afternoon. After failing to appear in court on Wednesday, his arraignment was postponed until Thursday.

Authorities say the scuffle started around midday Saturday when a man, later identified as Roper, broke down the front door of a home on Overlook Road and confronted two people inside. According to police, one woman was stabbed to death at the home, and another man was stabbed multiple times.

According to court documents, a child in the house witnessed everything and called police. Authorities initially described the incident as a family disturbance and stated that it was not “random,” though they have not revealed the suspect’s relationship to the residents of the house.

Maura Claire Ghizzoni was identified as the victim in court documents.

Officers learned while responding to the Overlook Road home that Roper allegedly chased one of the stabbing victims to another house, this time on Middlefield Road. Roper allegedly broke into the house and demanded the keys to a vehicle parked there. According to court documents, he stabbed an elderly person multiple times during the process.

Roper is suspected of stealing the vehicle and leading officers on a two-mile chase, which ended with his arrest at Gilman and Ninth streets.

Mardi Sicular, a neighbor, later told reporters that Maura Ghizzoni was “a beautiful person, beloved, kind, generous… a neighbor’s angel.”

“We’re all devastated,” said Sicular.

Sicular said she got home about 15 minutes after the attack and heard screams and people yelling “help, help, call 911.” Sicular wasn’t sure if the scream her son heard was from a neighbor, but it was “a blood-curdling scream.”

Roper was released on his own recognizance at the time after being arrested in late August by Berkeley police on suspicion of repeatedly showing up at the home of a different woman who had a restraining order against him. He was formally charged on August 28, released the next day, and ordered to appear in court on October 13 after pleading not guilty to the charges.

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