Thursday, October 13, 2011



Steven Pfiel (A Musing on What Generates the Traffic to the Case Study)

     I wonder what draws some of the people looking for information about Steven Pfiel to this blog.  Surely most of it must be some sort of curiosity.  I can judge that alone by the people in foreign lands who were likely just putting their or a friend’s name into Google and finding that there was a Steven Pfiel who committed a pair of heinous murders – and one confirmed sexual assault – currently serving out the rest of his life in a maximum security prison in Illinois.  Some of the traffic may also be due to the fact that my scholastic (not professional) case study of him, largely gathered from public sources, appears to be the most comprehensive treatment of his journey from troubled child to convicted killer that is easily available to the public.  Still, if I had to guess, I would imagine that the majority of people looking for information about Pfiel knew him or of him back when he first made headlines in 1993.
     As such, it is a little disheartening that there has been so little feedback about the case study .  Sure, it is likely much longer than anything one would want to read from a computer screen.  It also does not have the crime scene photos for which many are searching.  I want to make a point on that subject.  I do not have photos of either the Hillary Norkog or Roger Pfiel, Jr. murder.  If I had access to such images, I would not make them available to the general public nor post them on a blog.  It isn’t that I do not believe that such images don’t better inform the actions and underlying mindset of Pfiel and his actions.  Rather, it is my belief that the value of what can be gained from an examination of them is limited – and would truly apply to a small group of professional (of which I would not be included) – and does not exceed the disrespect it would show for the victims.
     Back to the subject of feedback.  It strikes me that there should be several hundred people who count themselves as former classmates of Steven Pfiel, and no fewer who would have similar ties to Hillary Norskog or Roger Pfiel, Jr. (indeed, I was a classmate of Roger’s).  While I am aware that the case study does not do much of a service of illustrating the victims – and there is really no place in a case study to do as much – I do think that there is a place for some commentary on those who were murdered by Pfiel.  Leaving the victims as little more than names with ties to the killer does not allow for the best understanding of the tragedy of the murders.
     Likewise, I am well aware that there were people who counted themselves as friends and supporters of Pfiel.  Yet there has been no mention of the how the paper misrepresented Pfiel’s behavior or actions.  Nor has there been any feedback of how easy it was to miss the signals of how damaged Pfiel was – at least not on the blog.  There was an off-hand comment while I was constructing the paper about how ‘nobody could see it coming’, but such a sentiment only reflects the general lack of awareness to the Macdonald Triad (which suggests that animal cruelty, fire-setting, and persistent bed wetting after five years old are strong indicators of later homicidal behavior) and how Pfiel may have scored on such a measure.
     Clearly, there were those who had more than a general sense of discomfort when dealing with a young Steven Pfiel (I count myself in this camp).  To be perfectly fair, I assume that there were probably an equal number of people who had similar sentiments about an adolescent me.  I think that whatever superficial relationship Roger and I may have had would have been informed by his noting similarities between his brother and me.  It may explain why Roger was always friendly towards me, even though we weren’t really friends.  Of course, it is probably just as likely that Roger was of better character than I was willing to acknowledge at the time; he may have been cool to everybody who didn’t go out of their way to piss him off.  The last time I saw Roger was the Thursday before high school graduation when he and I were part of a group of students called in to serve any and all detentions still due; I got out of this rather deftly, as I had been in possession of my disciplinary card for months at that time and had the only record of what I was due to serve (for the record, it was two regular detentions and thirteen Saturday detentions).  He and I nodded to one another and as far as I know, he spent the rest of that day in the school doing nothing, a perfect example of how punishment often overrides the need to do better by the student.
     I do not know if I would have given Roger much thought after that had his brother not murdered Hillary Norskog.  I do know that there are people much better suited to speak to the character of Roger and his relationship with Steven than my personal experience would allow me to do; I don’t know if I had more than three interactions with the younger Pfiel.  The case study was undertaken in an attempt to better understand just what may have been going on, what motivated a teenager with no lack of opportunity or means to commit violent crimes against people he knew intimately.  I cannot state without equivocation that my conclusions are correct.  People who knew Hillary, Roger, and/or Steven may come away from reading the case study thinking that is completely ignores the people involved in the events, that it gave them no better insight into the mind of the killer.
     More recently, the murders of John and Maria Granat by their son, John Jr., in Palos Park has brought new attention to the Pfiel case.  Palos is still a small village, though nowhere near as intimate or isolated as when I was growing up there.  There are undoubtedly many crimes going on in the quietude of wooded suburbia, but murder is a decidedly rare one.  What ties the Granat case to Pfiel’s is Stagg High School and the relatively young ages of the people involved.  However, the Granat case seems to be so mundane – adolescent rage against parental authority and ignorant greed.  It does not, to me, evoke the same sense of wonder or curiosity that the Pfiel case does.
     What I am asking here, and I am not expecting much of a response, is for some feedback about the Pfiel pieces.  What is the cause for the interest in him and his crimes to be so enduring?  Is it just the personal attachments we may have had with him or his victims?  Is it just location, that those who are from Palos are interested in this small piece of history?  Is it just a curiosity about the crimes?  If you, the reader, have any information that you would like to share, I encourage you to do so (either here at the blog or at [email protected]).  There is much left to be said about the murders and the man behind them.
     I have met the threshold I set in order to start looking into what it would take to arrange an interview with prisoner Pfiel.  At the same time, I very much hope that he would have no interest in assenting to such a request; I am not eager to sit before a murderer and ask him what he was feeling when he killed a fifteen year old girl.  Still, I think that there is more left to the tale than what little I have contributed.  And I am hoping that the people who knew Hillary, Roger, and Steven would be willing to come forward with some of their remembrances. 
     Otherwise, I will just assume that it is curiosity that drives the traffic.  A sense of uncertainty as to what may have led a supposedly normal boy to kill those he had close relationships.  I don’t have the real answers for that.

20 comments:

  1. Anonymous June 25, 2013 at 3:44 AM

    My interest in the case was the location Crete,il as I grew up there and there are very few murders to speak of. Was very shocked to stumble upon this but was young when it happened.

    As for comments on the case study…as I read it I kept having a "what is the point" thought. Not that what you wrote wasn’t interesting. I guess it would just seem obvious that he suffered from mental problems. Whether he fits the mold or not just doesn’t seem interesting. The interesting part of the case study was one source pulling all sources together and providing a beginning to end account. In the general news, it seems almost impossible to get such detail from one article.

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  2. Anonymous April 3, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    My interest in the case is that I grew up in Palos Park and was 11 years old at the time of the first murder. It was the parents of my childhood friend Robert who found Hillary on that fateful morning while out walking their dog. I still remember them bribing us with Popsicles to not tell anyone that they were the ones who found her as they wanted nothing to do with the press. Hillary was found in the subdivision of Suffield Woods, which is where I lived and at that time there were only a handful of homes built. She was dumped in the back of the subdivision which was nothing more than a field and a gravel road, which is now a cul-de-sac filled with half a million dollar plus homes.

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    1. Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 2:36 PM

      i lived in suffield woods at the time. i was very young and it is hard for me to remember details but i remember how scared i was. the parents that found Hillary’s body, did they have a son named Henry? i cant remember the last name. I always thought his parents found her. just curios, thanks

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  3. Anonymous October 18, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    Is this site still active? I knew everyone involved in this story. We warned Hillary she was to young to hang out with our crowd. Steve showed me the knife he would kill her with a day before the murder. Roger was a good man who believed in his brothers innocence until he was brutally killed.

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    1. None of ya bizzy July 29, 2015 at 8:37 PM

      Why would you not tell her,her mother or the police??SMH!!

      I was watching killer kids and caught the end and looked it up that’s why I’m here.

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    2. None of ya bizzy July 29, 2015 at 9:06 PM

      Ughh your comment irritates me don’t know why. How could you say you warned her she was too young to hang in your group but not about him saying he would kill her. So that’s why he killed her because she was too young to hang out with your group. Why didn’t you warn him if something happens to her you would go to the police?? And instead of saying you feel bad you say you warned her. Omg Really!!😡😡

      Sounds like someone was a lil jelly that she was around!

      I have a question when you heard she was missing or dead did you go to the police to tell them what he told you??

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  4. Anonymous March 18, 2015 at 12:26 PM

    Today marks 20 years since Roger was killed. That is why I am here. I am friends with the youngest sister. I always try to forget but she made it a point to bring it up on social media today.

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    1. Anonymous October 29, 2016 at 9:35 PM

      I’m curious to hear you know their little sister. I met Roger and Steve shortly before Hillary’s murder, and knew Roger well. I met their little sister only a couple times, but I’ve always hoped that she was doing good, and I sincerely hope she has found happiness.

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  5. Anonymous October 4, 2015 at 9:52 PM

    The parents have bought a lake front home on Cedar Lake. Pretty sure the neighbors are oblivious.

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  6. Anonymous October 29, 2016 at 9:31 PM

    I also knew the people involved. I met Steve and Roger about 2 weeks before Hillary was murdered. Remained close friends with Roger through the trial, lost touch when their family moved. Over the years, I mostly think about Hillary. I never knew her, but I almost feel like I did. When my nieces each reached 13, I thought about Hillary a lot. Being 17 at the time of the murder, I didn’t realize how little Hillary was then. She was still a baby. Her death haunts me. I guess that’s why I did this Google search and came across this page. I wonder about their younger sister a lot. I met her a few times, being at the house after the murder. I’m purposely not using her name. I hope she is living a beautiful life. She must be an amazingly strong person. As my own daughter gets closer to 13, I’ve already told her about Hillary, about how at only 13, she trusted a monster and paid for it with her life. We have to protect our girls.

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  7. Anonymous February 26, 2017 at 7:45 PM

    I was a neighbor of the Pfiels growing up. We all lived on 121st street together and I played with his younger sister. Since she’s not mentioned by name, I’ll keep that private, but I’ve heard she’s changed it. I attended birthday parties there and played on the brothers skate ramp. I’ve moved away, but curiosity to the past had me searching about this experience. I don’t remember specifics about the brothers, just little snips of memories. The boys had VHS porn hidden in the couch cushions upstairs and we would giggle. One occasion with the sister’s hamster getting out and running into the brother’s room was disturbing. He had her in tears saying he would kill it and wouldn’t open the doors. He eventually returned it unharmed and all was well. I think about her often, but when the newspapers published their home address after posting bail the street became a parade route and they moved away. Thoughts and prayers to all.

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  8. Unknown March 15, 2017 at 1:53 AM

    Grew up in suffield woods. A friend of mines sister was friends with Hillary. I remember her picture being up all around the community.

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  9. Anonymous April 8, 2017 at 9:18 PM

    Anyone have a picture of roger? Was just a curiosity of mine as to what he looked like considering i now know their family well.

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    1. SS Irish April 24, 2017 at 12:00 AM

      Roger looked a lot like Steve – with regards to their facial features. He had a nickname "blowfish" which he disliked, because of their puffy cheeks. I probably have a yearbook pic of both of them but don’t feel motivated to rummage through all that stuff. He was slightly taller and bulkier than Steve and had lighter hair. I actually rode with Steve and another girl to the party in the woods on that fateful night. When it came time to leave he was nowhere to be found and I had to catch a ride with another group of friends. As a result the police were all over me for information none of us had. We had to testify in front of a grand jury which was odd because we couldn’t really add anything of substance – he clearly left the woods with Hillary, killed her, and went home, from what the facts seem to suggest. It’s a strange feeling to think back about how so many lives were affected by these events. The back story of the relationships between the people gets really convoluted in the reports. It all really goes back to the fact that most of these soon to be freshman girls had older brothers already in Stagg so they became more and more involved with us. That’s how you got 13 year old girls hanging out with 16-18 year old guys. The night of the woods party was like many other night time "parties" with the likelyhood of hanging out getting stoned and have some beer. Looking back, we really had so little adult supervision. We literally had six-figure houses to hang out in with no parents, which we took advantage of daily. It’s amazing any of our class graduated. I personally never went to school, and stopped attending all together somewhere during my sophomore year and spent my days between my house and the house in Ishnala (spelling?). A couple years back some of us were contacted by a production company making the movie that included this story, probably the Killer Kids film. Somehow a few of us found each other’s phone numbers and had brief conversations about it, then I believe we all said that no one would actually participate. We each probably had our own reasons for not taking part. I have yet to actually see the flick. Hillary was a sweet young girl, only child like myself, with questionable parental supervision. She lived very close to Stagg, as did I, and we would just hang out and walk around the neighborhood until we felt like going home. Now that I think about it, one night Hillary, myself, and another girl named in this piece stayed out all night, went home around 7 am and now that I think about it, no one’s parents said a thing.

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    2. SS Irish April 24, 2017 at 11:29 AM

      I should edit he only child part – I don’t remember exactly, but I believe she actually had a much older sibling(s) that may or may or may not have already been married, but had their own adult lives and didn’t live with Marsha in the condo.

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  10. CoCo Olson June 13, 2017 at 3:21 AM

    Article- boring. Commentary, interesting.

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  11. Unknown January 1, 2018 at 9:03 PM

    This case lingered in my memory from The Chicago Reader article I read years ago. My interest today was triggered by the newly released movie, Three Billboards in Ebbings, Missouri. The movie is fiction. For some reason I was thinking that real life is stranger than fiction, because nothing in that movie compares to this true story. I was always waiting to come across a novel about this or true crime book.

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  12. Trina M March 6, 2018 at 9:23 AM

    Does anyone know how the lawsuit btwn the victims mother & the convicted person’s parents eventually turned out or was ever resolved? I can find the case up until 2001 but after that there does not seem to be any further searchable information. Thank you

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  13. Anonymous July 12, 2018 at 11:22 PM

    Steven’s parents live on the lake in Cedar Lake,Indiana. They are at the local eagles every day drinking their cocktails. Their daughter, Melissa, lives in Colorado. She visits her parents from time to time, is married, and has a son. To talk to the Pfiel parents, they originally say they only have the one child, their daughter. I guess they were quite the partiers back in the day, doesn’t seem like much has changed. Although living through what they went through, who could blame them for having daily cocktails.

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    1. Anonymous September 12, 2018 at 1:36 PM

      Yea maybe if they weren’t so busy drinking those cocktails they would have prevented two deaths. Screw paying attention to your kids. Just buy them shit and ignore them. What kills me is they knew there was blood in their car. If you think good parenting is protecting your kids when they commit murder, well…. that explains why you allowed your son to murder his own brother and rape his sister. Keep sipping those cocktails.

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Deseret News

FAMILY THAT FLED WITH SON RAN INTO A NEW NIGHTMARE

By Sarah Nordgren, Associated Press Writer

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      On St. Patrick’s Day, Roger and Gayle Pfiel relaxed at a party – a respite from their waking nightmare, the murder accusation against their youngest son that had hung over their family for more than a year.

      They returned home to find a cataclysm.Six squad cars and two ambulances lined the pothole-scarred rural road that separated their large and isolated Tudor home from a fallow cornfield.

      Inside, their elder son lay dead, beaten with a baseball bat, his throat slashed with a meat cleaver. A young family member, the one whose hysterical telephone call had summoned help, had been raped.

      For a family that already had too much grief to bear, there was one more terrible blow in store.

      Police told them it was not an intruder who was responsible for the violence, but Steven – the baby-faced, 18-year-old son who had been charged with killing a young girl 20 months before.

      The son for whom they posted a $100,000 bond and moved the family to the rural home when the taunts and glares of neighbors became too much. The son who, days later, penned a note to his parents from a jail cell.

      “Mom and dad,” Steven Pfiel wrote, “now I’ve killed two people.”

     

      * * *

     

      “Wouldn’t it be cool,” Pfiel once told his friend Ed Prasauskas, “to stab someone in the head with this?”

      In his hands he held a knife. He had pulled it from under the car seat, Prasauskas told the Chicago Tribune.

      After the murders, those who knew Steven Pfiel searched their memories for indications of murderous rage in a boy who was raised under comfortable circumstances, in a ranch house under towering oaks.

      Prasauskas, 18, remembered seeing his friend smash his stereo speakers with a pool cue; others recalled that he had been arrested once for smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol outside of his home.

      Pfiel reveled in shooting pool, riding in fast cars and cranking up the volume when he listened to metal bands. He ran with a fast crowd at Stagg High School, where his record was unremarkable.

      Pfiel knew Hillary Norskog, though they were just acquaintances. Hillary was 13, about to enter high school.

      She was just starting to spend evenings away from the watchful eyes of her single mother. On July 14, 1993, she kissed her mom goodbye; she would likely party with friends, she said, and spend the night with a girlfriend.

      Hillary and her friends headed to Hidden Pond Woods in a nearby forest preserve. The teens sat at picnic tables, laughed, drank a couple beers. At some point, Hillary apparently decided against spending the night at her girlfriend’s. She left the forest preserve in time to meet her 10:30 curfew.

      Friends say that Steven Pfiel, just turned 17, offered her a ride home.

      Three days later, two people walking behind a subdivision of million dollar homes not far from Hidden Pond found Hillary’s 80-pound body in a field of weeds. Beaten, stabbed and too decomposed to immediately identify, investigators recognized the Jurassic Park T-shirt her mother had described.

      “She was so tiny,” Norskog said. “She never had a chance.”

     

      * * *

     

      Steven was arrested July 20 outside of his family’s Palos Park home, a short car ride from Hillary’s condominium. He told police the blood red stains that covered the seats of his 1988 Chevrolet were Kool-Aid.

      He remained behind bars until Oct. 3, when his parents posted $100,000 of a $1 million bond.

      Although Hilary’s mother Marsha Norskog kept intense pressure on prosecutors and police, the case against Steven was delayed again and again as attorneys wrangled over DNA evidence and its admissibility.

      The trial has been put off once again, until June 21. Pfiel has been found fit to stand trial, but prosecutors and defense attorneys say they are working on plea agreements in both the Norskog case and the murder and rape case.

      Norskog has long been convinced of Steven’s guilt. Last November, as he left the courtroom, she leaned from her seat and hissed in a stage whisper, “Why don’t you go kill someone else? You’re already killing me.”

      The Pfiels, meanwhile, sat behind their youngest son at every court hearing and continued to back him publicly.

      Media scrutiny had become excruciating, and the Pfiels decided to move with their children to St. John, Ind., just across the stateline.

      They changed their minds after St. John residents learned of the plan – Norskog acknowledges playing a role – and mounted a letter-writing campaign to urge the Pfiels to go elsewhere.

      The family settled instead in rural Crete, more than 30 miles from Palos Park. The 4,500-square-foot house was purchased quietly, for about $200,000 in cash, through the Pfiel’s lawyer. He referred to his clients by first name only, said sources familiar with the negotiations.

      “We thought they were in the federal witness protection program,” said a neighbor who requested anonymity.

      Other than a rowdy teen party late last summer, neighbors say they kept to themselves, the Pfiels kept to themselves.

      By several accounts, Steven remained tight with his brother Roger, older by one year. Roger defended his sibling against those who believed him guilty.

      “They were really close,” said friend Shawn Baker.

     

      * * *

     

      On the night of March 17, Roger and Gayle Pfiel left home for the 50-mile drive to Chicago and the St. Patrick’s Day party. In the hours after they left, the Pfiel home became a slaughterhouse.

      How it came to pass, police do not know. But at 7:13 a.m. on Saturday, they received a frantic call from a young female family member, asking for help.

      By the time police arrived, Roger Pfiel was dead in a bedroom. Police say he had been bludgeoned and slashed. The young woman who alerted police had been raped. Steven Pfiel had fled the home, taking with him his father’s shotgun and two rifles, said a deputy chief.

      Several hours later, Mayor Michael Einhorn heard a knock at the front door of Crete’s tiny Village Hall.

      “I need to talk to somebody,” said a young man wearing a black Metallica T-shirt. “I think I’m in some trouble.”

      The mayor called police, who arrested Steven Pfiel. Sheriff’s police say Steven made a full confession to his brother’s death but gave no motive.

      Pfiel’s parents have not visited their son since the day they found their lives undone.

      “It’s a tremendous loss,” said their attorney, Raymond Pijon. “I don’t think there’s any way to assess it. There are no magic words that make this go away.”

      At his first court hearing after Roger Pfiel was killed, Steven was led through a phalanx of reporters on his way back to jail. “Steven, do you have anything to say?” shouted one of the reporters.

      Steven lifted both handcuffed hands, the middle finger on each extended upwards.

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Sept. 6, 2018
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`I NOW KNOW I AM GUILTY OF 2 MURDERS’

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Steven Pfiel had always maintained that he didn’t murder a 13-year-old Palos Hills girl, and his older brother, Roger, had been his most vocal defender.

Authorities say that after standing over Roger’s slashed and bludgeoned body, Steven Pfiel took pen in hand in the early hours of March 18 and finally confronted his demons.

In a brief note to "Mom and Dad," Steven, 18, recounted that he had been drinking with Roger, 19, in the family’s Crete Township home, the two had fought and Steven "freaked out" and killed his brother.

"I now know I am guilty of two murders," he wrote in the note, which is now in the possession of law enforcement authorities.

The note promises to be a key piece of evidence in Pfiel’s upcoming murder trial for the July 1993 death of Hillary Norskog, whose brutally stabbed body was found in a Palos Township field three days after she disappeared.

"Steve was my friend. Hillary was my friend," said Kim Gagner, 16, who introduced the two and took heat for maintaining her friendship with Pfiel after the murder. "I didn’t think Steve would do something like that."

Now, she said, "I hate him. I hate his guts."

Pfiel is accused of beating his brother with a baseball bat, then slashing his throat with a meat cleaver while his parents were away for the night at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, authorities said. Afterward, he allegedly sexually assaulted another family member in the house.

Pfiel fled in a family pickup stocked with guns and camping gear at about 7 a.m. Five and a half hours later, Crete Mayor Michael Einhorn heard pounding on the front door of Village Hall.

"I think I’m in some trouble," a harried Pfiel told Einhorn.

Authorities charged Pfiel with one count of first degree murder and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. He is being held in Cook County Jail.

When told of the note, Raymond Pijon, Pfiel’s lawyer in the Norskog case, said it could have a bearing on the case.

"Anything that a defendant says that is a statement against his interests or admission of sorts is damaging," he said. "On the other hand, sometimes such a thing could be helpful. It just depends on the nature of the defense."

Many former friends can pinpoint the moments when their faith in Pfiel was irrevocably shaken.

Ed Prasauskas, 18, of Lockport, had shrugged off the time when Pfiel, a few months before Hillary’s murder, pulled out a new hunting knife from underneath his car seat and said, "Wouldn’t it be cool to stab someone in the head with this?"

Prasauskas’ loyalty was tested again when Pfiel, now out on bail, suddenly started smashing his stereo speakers with a pool cue during a pool game in his bedroom-and then denied memory of the incident the next day.

Roger Romo, 19, of Orland Park was jolted a couple of months ago when he and several friends were visiting the Pfiel brothers at the Crete Township home where the family relocated last year. They’d been drinking beer outside when a shotgun blast shook the night, and they turned to find Pfiel clutching his father’s most powerful firearm.

"I thought, `No way. Somebody better get this out of his hands,’ " Romo said.

In hindsight, those who knew Pfiel point to landmines scattered throughout his past: a spoiled upbringing, his drinking and drug use, a thrill-seeking impulse and his use-’em-and-lose-’em way with girls. But although his behavior was sometimes odd, nothing could explain how the carefree Pfiel they knew squared with the vicious killer described by police.

"He did a lot of nutty things, but I know a lot of people who did a lot worse that didn’t commit murders," said Jake Ostrowski, 18, of Palos Park.

Pfiel is one of three children of Roger and Gayle Pfiel. He grew up in Palos Park in a sprawling ranch house with 1 1/2 acres shaded by towering oaks. His father is a high-ranking executive at a Chicago meat-packing company.

"He had everything you could ask for money-wise," said Anthony Gagner, 18, who has been a friend of Pfiel’s since 6th grade.

The Pfiel house was the site of frequent gatherings because Pfiel’s parents either stayed in the other wing of the house or were not at home, friends said.

"They let him get away with everything," one friend said.

Pfiel’s clique played pool in his bedroom, blared bands like Danzig, Pink Floyd and the Red Hot Chili Peppers from his stereo and jammed in the garage on his electric bass guitar.

At Stagg High School, Pfiel migrated toward a loose-knit group of "misfits" and "stoners" who liked to ditch school and hang around local forest preserves, where they drank beer, smoked marijuana and occasionally used LSD.

Ostrowski said Pfiel’s drug use could get excessive.

"One time I saw him at the lunch table in school take five hits of acid," he said. "This kid, he was going berserk."

On one drug-fogged night, Prasauskas said, he and Pfiel took turns speeding down Kean Avenue at 80 m.p.h., with the other clinging to the hood.

Pfiel’s risk-taking wasn’t limited to cars. Prasauskas said he once watched Pfiel and his brother take the "wussy" test, which involved holding a burning cigarette between their two forearms to see who would flinch first.

Pfiel’s arms and wrists were dotted with burns, friends said.

Still, most stressed, Pfiel didn’t often set himself apart from the crowd and usually seemed like a typical rebellious teenager.

"We never really liked school," said Anthony Gagner. "I think he was the one who got the worst grades of us all."

Stagg officials would not make any of Pfiel’s records available, but Principal Ross Cucio said, "To look at his school file, there was nothing that would indicate any violent behavior." He added that Pfiel’s only offenses were minor infractions like smoking.

Pfiel’s only previous arrest came on July 3, 1993-two weeks before he was charged with Norskog’s murder-when he was caught by police in front of his home with marijuana.

Pfiel was popular with girls but had a reputation for being persistent, though not violent, in his pursuit of sex.

"He was a little forceful with girls," said one former girlfriend, now 16. "(But) he was like any other teenage guy. He was a walking hormone."

On the night of Hillary’s murder, Pfiel and Hillary attended a party at Hidden Pond Woods Forest Preserve with 15 or 20 others. The group pushed two picnic tables together and sat around, some drinking beer or smoking marijuana, according to teenagers who were there.

Hillary came to the party with Pfiel and two others, but they weren’t dating, her friends said. Hillary had confided that she was interested in Pfiel, but he reportedly didn’t reciprocate.

"He said she was like his little sister, and he wouldn’t do anything to her," Kim Gagner said.

Friends said they last saw Hillary in Pfiel’s car. Three days later, her mutilated body was found in a field a few miles from her home.

Pfiel told police that red stains in his car was from Kool-Aid, but testing later revealed the stains were blood. Police also recovered a blood-stained knife and bloody clothes from Pfiel’s home.

He spent three months in Cook County Jail before his parents posted 10 percent of his $1 million bond to free him. Back in Palos Park, Pfiel rarely left his home despite a lack of court restrictions. He spent much of the time playing pool and practicing his bass guitar.

He also entertained a dwindling group of friends, for whom the arrest was an uncomfortable topic.

"It was all like no big deal for him," said John Grigus, 20, a friend of both brothers. "He was like, `I’m going to get off, I’m going to sue the papers, I’m going to be rich.’ "

Ostrowski recalled a time when he and several others were sitting around drinking beer with Pfiel in the Palos Park house. Pfiel’s mother surprised them, and said, "After all we’ve done for you, you’re going to ruin everything by letting your friends drink here."

Pfiel responded with an obscenity.

"His mom started crying right in front of us. I just decided we had to leave," Ostrowski said, adding that he was so disgusted that he never spoke to Pfiel again.

Last fall, the family moved to unincorporated Crete because of the publicity about the case. By this time, Pfiel had shed most of his friends and was rarely seen without Roger.

"A lot of Steve’s friends abandoned him, and a lot of Roger’s friends abandoned him for supporting Steve," said Chris Schumpp, 17, a former friend.

Romo recalled that the Pfiel brothers had a rare party a few months ago and invited a group of local girls. When Pfiel told them that he’d been charged with murder, Romo said, "they took off in a minute," leaving Steven, Roger and a few friends from his old haunts.

"I don’t know why he killed Roger," said Grigus. "He was his only friend out there."


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