According to Hanley, on Sept. 17, 2016, at approximately 5 a.m., the Rockford City Fire Department responded to the 2800 block of Garfield Drive, where a home was engulfed in flames and surrounding residences suffered damage from the fire. Fire personnel extinguished the flames, found a child’s body in a bedroom of the home, and notified Rockford Police.
Responding officers located the bodies of Keandra Austin and her three children inside the home. According to Hanley, an autopsy determined Austin "died of multiple penetrating chest injuries" prior to the fire, and her three children died from smoke inhalation. Austin was pregnant at the time of her death, WTVO-TV reports.
Prior to the victims’ deaths, investigators learned Austin was "having trouble" with Jackson and his family, who lived down the street.
Officials interviewed Jackson, and he said he was home from midnight until 5:30 a.m. the day of the fire. Hanley said investigators later discovered that wasn’t true, and Jackson "advised he could have been somewhere else."
One of Jackson’s family members reportedly told detectives they were with Jackson on the morning of Sept. 17, and he "had a strong odor of gasoline and was acting nervously." According to Hanley, Jackson also told other people that he and another individual set the home on fire.
Jackson was initially arrested five years after the victims’ deaths, records show.
The State’s Attorney’s Office noted that first-degree murder is punishable by 20 to 60 years in prison, but because Jackson was convicted of killing two or more victims, he faces life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.