The 36-year-old man who was arrested for the fatal stabbing of his mother on Saturday, as well as stabbings that injured two others, has a long and troubled past with law enforcement, and he appears to have begun having psychiatric problems around age 18. And, tragically, his mother had been his advocate for many years.
While Berkeley Police still have not publicized the name of the suspect in Saturday's stabbing in the Berkeley Hills, multiple sources and arrest records have confirmed that it is 36-year-old Jonah Jeremiah Ghizzoni-Roper, who also goes by Jonah Roper and he has gone by other names as well.
The victim, as the Berkeley Scanner reports, was 60-year-old Maura Ghizzoni, a midwife and artist. Ghizzoni's husband, Ghizzoni-Roper's stepfather, was also injured and was seen by a witness being chased out of the house by an armed younger man. And a third victim, a woman who was visiting a neighbor's house nearby, was also stabbed when Ghizzoni-Roper apparently entered that home — it's not clear what happened there, but that may be where Ghizzoni-Roper stole the car he was later apprehended in.
Court and arrest records obtained by Berkeley Scanner show that Ghizzoni-Roper's interactions with police date back to 2005, when Roper was 18. Since then, he was arrested over a dozen times in California, Illinois, Louisiana, and Florida.
A letter that his mother submitted to a judge in 2008, after Ghizzoni-Roper was involved in an incident in Santa Clara County in which a guard was injured, said that he "has a history of mental illness that has included periods of stability & periods of breakdown."
His official diagnosis was reportedly schizoaffective disorder.
Four years later, when he was 25, as the East Bay Times reports, he was charged with robbing the Bank of the Orient in downtown Oakland. At the time, he was already on probation for a 2011 burglary conviction and a 2011 battery of a custodial officer, and his probation officer at the time recognized him in bank surveillance video.
As the Chronicle notes, in 2014, Ghizzoni-Roper was arrested four times in a three-month period in Florida and Louisiana, during another apparent period of chaos.
We know that he was in Chicago in 2021, where he was arrested for criminal trespassing, resisting arrest and assaulting emergency personnel. And that same year, in April, he was arrested for forcing his way into his mother's home, after which she declined to press charges but requested a stay-away order. That same night, he was accused of exposing himself outside another home in Berkeley, and after his arrest, as the Scanner reports, police noted that he had already been arrested four times that year on charges including domestic battery and robbery.
He most recently got out of jail on August 29, following an arrest for violating a restraining order at a home on Kains Avenue in Berkeley. When not getting arrested, he apparently like to make beat tracks and post them on SoundCloud.
Ghizzoni-Roper was multiple times a candidate for involuntary commitment to a psychiatric facility, given that he was a documented danger to others, and in fact he was involuntarily committed, the most recent time apparently being in 2015 in Marin County. He was also placed on a 72-hour psych hold in 2019. But this was another case of a system failing to address, in a longterm fashion, an individual who was seemingly in constant crisis.
Cases like this one will be referenced as California launches its first Care Courts next month, including in San Francisco. Under the Care Court system, proposed by Governor Gavin Newsom last year and later signed into law, individuals arrested for many types of crime who have a history of mental illness will be given the option of voluntarily receiving treatment or could be compelled into treatment if they refuse.
Ghizzoni-Roper is being held at the Berkeley jail ahead of his Wednesday arraignment. He faces charges of murder, attempted murder, child abuse with possible great bodily injury, elder abuse, burglary, and vehicle theft.
Top image: Photo via SoundCloud