Local college professor, sons named in Cherry Valley murder-suicide

Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz released the names of the three family members found dead at a home in the 4600 block of Chandon Woods Drive in Cherry Valley on Saturday.

Peter S. Ruckman, more commonly known as P.S. Ruckman, a long-time professor at Rock Valley College and Northern Illinois University was found dead, along with his two sons 12-year-old John Ruckman and 14-year-old Christopher Ruckman.

Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz says all of them have gunshot wounds. At this time, it is still unclear who the shooter was. The incident is still under investigation.

Winnebago County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the home around 7 a.m. Saturday for a welfare check. During the check, deputies found three dead bodies in different rooms of the home. 

Ruckman has been a professor at Rock Valley College since 1998 and was in his second stint as an instructor at Northern Illinois University.

“The Rock Valley College community is devastated by the news of the tragic deaths of Peter Ruckman, and his two children,” said Dr. Doug Jensen, President of Rock Valley College in a news release. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of Professor Ruckman and his children at this difficult time.”  

RVC says it will be providing grief counseling services to its employees and students to help them cope with the tragic event.

Winnebago County Court records show Ruckman, and his ex-wife Heidi, who police say called in the initial welfare check Saturday, filed for divorce in July of last year. The divorce was finalized a month later and last were in court in November, finalizing a parenting plan with the court.

Autopsies on the three family members are scheduled for Monday.  We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

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