Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Case Study of Steven Pfiel (2010)

    Steven Pfiel was considered by many to be an average child from an average family acting out normal adolescent rebellions.  On 17 July, 1993, those assumptions would begin to unravel.  What would emerge is a clear, though not definitive, picture of an adolescent psychopath.  Unfortunately, Steven would go on to become a serial killer, engage in sex acts immediately after one of his murders, and leave both families of his victims without answers as to what motivated him.  This paper will examine the troubling history of Steven Pfiel, from elementary school to an inmate of the Illinois Department of Corrections, with specific attention paid to the two murders and one rape he is known to have committed.  It will make the case that not only is Steven a serial killer, but also a psychopathic sexual sadist.  This paper will attempt to showcase that while all of the popular assumptions regarding these definitions may not apply to Steven, he meets the criteria nonetheless.  This paper is formatted as to detail Steven Pfiel=s history and then to attempt an analysis of his behavior as meeting the thresholds for inclusion in psychopathy, serial homicide, and sexual sadism.

     Sometime after leaving a party in a Cook County, IL, forest preserve with Hillary Norskog in his car on the night of 14 July, 1993, Steven Pfiel murdered her ( McWhirter, 1994; Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b; Sloan & McWhirter, 1993c).  He stabbed the thirteen year old girl at least twelve times (Heinzmann, 2001; McWhirter & Sloan, 1993; Sloan & McWhirter, 1993c; Ziemba, 1998), particularly about the head and neck (Caro, 1995d).  This vicious attack resulted in Hillary having to be identified through dental records (McWhirter & Sloan, 1993).  The police did not even attempt to let Hillary=s mother, Marsha Norskog identify the disfigured body (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  The body was found on 17, July, 1993, in unincorporated Palos Township (Cytrynbaum, 1996h; McWhirter, 1994), dumped in a field (Sloan, 1995c; Ziemba, 1998). 

     Steven then apparently went home.  When Hillary did not return home, Marsha Norskog called her daughter=s friends to see if any knew where Hillary may be (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Upon learning that Hillary was last seen with Steven Pfiel, Marsha Norskog called the Pfiel home (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  She was not allowed to speak to Steven.  The call was taken by Gayle Pfiel, Steven=s mother, who told Marsha that such a phone call was tantamount to badgering and an aggravation her son did not need (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  The police also sought Steven=s help in searching for Hillary (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  They has him come down to the station and let police dogs sniff the inside of his car for Hillary=s scent (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  The police noticed that the front car seats were stained with a dark red material, but Steven told them it was a result of Kool-Aid7 explosion (Cytrynbaum, 1996e;  Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Police took a sample from the car seat and testing revealed that it was blood and matched Hillary=s type (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Within minutes of confirming the stains inside Steven=s car were from blood, Hillary=s body was discovered (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Police drove to the Pfiel home in Palos Park and arrested Steven (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Police recovered a knife and socks, shirt, and a hat worn by Steven that were smeared with blood (Caro, 1995d; Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b; Sloan & McWhirter, 1993c).  Steven=s car was in the garage with the front seats removed and scrubbed clean in attempt to remove the blood evidence from the car (Caro, 1994; Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Details about the murder itself were not released for some time.  There is an assumption by many people familiar with Steven Pfiel that he sexually assaulted Hillary either before or after the murder.  Medical examiners did conduct exams for signs of sexual assault (McWhirter & Sloan, 1993), but no formal charges were included in the final charges against Steven.  Hillary=s body was found fully clothed (McWhirter & Sloan, 1993), which may indicate that any sexual activity undertaken by Steven after the fact.  What is known is that Hillary attempted to defend herself, receiving stab wounds to her hands and palms (Caro, 1994).
     Steven and Hillary=s history is somewhat clouded.  Steven would have been a senior at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, Hillary an incoming freshman (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Hillary was introduced to Steven by mutual friend Kim Gagner (Caro & Martin, 1995b) at the beginning of the summer of 1993.  Hillary had her first kiss with Steven (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b), but Steven had told Kim Gagner that he considered Hillary to be a little sister and had no sexual interest in her (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Marsha Norskog admits to meeting Steven twice before the murder, once a late night meeting in which Steven had to be asked to go home (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  In her lawsuit against the Pfiels, Marsha Norskog alleged that Steven and Hillary were dating at the time of the murder (McMorrow & Harrison, 2001).

     One contentious part of the case against Steven is that no clear motive can be established (Sloan, 1993a).  Palos Hills Police Chief Paul Madigan commented on how he had not had any communication with law enforcement officers about the case where they had not been at a loss as to motive (Cytrynbaum, 1996c).  Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheehan could come up with no explanation, finding it particularly hard to imagine that a seventeen year old boy would commit such a crime (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993c).  The prosecution could not come up with a motive for Steven=s actions (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Moreover, the defense team was counting on the lack of established motive in getting Steven free on bail and hoping for an eventual acquittal (McWhirter, 1993).
     Steven was in Cook County Jail for almost six months after his arrest.  His parents claimed that this was in the interest of Steven=s safety.  The Pfiels eventually posted $100,000 bail and took Steven home.  The Pfiels planned on moving out of state, to St. John, IN, in an effort to avoid negative criticism and be closer to family (McWhirter & Stevens, 1994).  They issued a public statement in which they announced that they stood beside their son in his effort to affirm his innocence, something they considered to be both an actual fact and a legal conclusion that would be reached (McWhirter & Stevens, 1994).  However, this did nothing to settle the concerns of St. John residents who wished to not have an alleged murder move into their community (McWhirter & Stevens, 1994).  Residents publicly stated that they would be afraid to let their children out to play if Steven moved there (Sloan, 1994).  The Pfiels eventually gave up their effort to move out of state (McWhirter, 1994) and relocated to Crete, IL, instead.
     While living in Crete, Steven was mostly socially isolated (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  He did not attend the public school there as his parents hired tutors for him (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  He was left with a small circle of friends, most of whom lived close to thirty miles away (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  At one party, Steven scared away the local girls who had come by telling them he was an alleged murderer (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  At another gathering, Steven interrupted the festivities with a shotgun blast (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  Roger Romo, a friend of both Steven and Roger Pfiel, Jr., commented that somebody had to take the gun away from Steven before things got out of hand (Caro & Martin, 1995b).

     It was also in Crete where Steven committed his most heinous crimes.  While his parents were away, celebrating St. Patrick=s Day in Chicago, Steven assaulted both of his siblings (Nordgren, 1995).  By his own account, Steven spent part of the evening of 17 March, 1995 drinking with his brother, Roger (Caro, 1995k).  After that, he went to his room and smoked some marijuana (Caro, 1995k).  It wasn=t long before Steven returned to Roger=s room to watch television (Caro, 1995k).  Roger was asleep (Caro, 1995k).  Steven went to the closet and grabbed a baseball bat and started swinging it (Caro, 1995k).  For no apparent or stated reason, Steven then stood over his brother and savagely beat him with the baseball bat (Caro, 1995k; Cytrynbaum, 1996a; Cytrynbaum, 1996e; Heinzmann, 2001; Murphy & Healy, 1999; Ziemba, 1998).  When Roger began to convulse, Steven went to the kitchen and retrieved a meat cleaver (Cytrynbaum, 1996e).  He hit Roger in the throat once (Caro, 1995k; Cytrynbaum, 1996a; Cytrynbaum, 1996e; Heinzmann, 2001; Murphy & Healy, 1999; Ziemba, 1998).  Steven said he did this to keep Roger from dying slowly (Caro, 1995k).

     Steven then went into his sister=s room and sexually assaults her (Caro, 1995a; Caro, 1995c; Cytrynbaum, 1996a; Cytrynbaum, 1996d; Heinzmann, 2001; Nordgren, 1995).  Steven never gives a detailed account for this activity.  It is known that the sister does not call police until 7:13am on 18 March, 1995 (Nordgren, 1995).  This leaves an approximate four hours between when Steven left Roger=s room and when he flees the home.  How much of that time is spent gathering the supplies he takes with him B camping gear and three rifles and shotguns (Caro & Martin, 1995a; Heinzmann, 2001; Murphy & Healy, 1999) is unknown, but it clear that the sexual assault on his sister in not brief.  Steven would initially be charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault against his sister (Caro & Martin, 1995a), but these would be dropped at the request of the Pfiel family.  Before leaving the house, Steven leaves a note for his parents stating that he is responsible for two murders (Caro, 1995b; Caro, 1995d; Caro, 1995g; Caro, 1995k; Caro & Martin, 1995b).
     Steven would spend the five and a half hours between leaving the house and turning himself in driving around (Caro & Martin, 1995a).  He had no clear plan on how to escape this situation.  Steven went to the Crete village hall and turned himself in to Mayor Michael Einhorn (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  Steven flatly tells the mayor that he thinks people are looking for him and that he is in trouble (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  Steven is taken into police custody after this and is never released.
     Steven was free on bail for murder charges when he killed his second victim, his older brother, and raped his younger sister.  Were there warning signs that proceeded all of this?  In actuality, there were many warning signs of which authorities, school officials, and the Pfiels were aware.  That none did not put them together to form an image of Steven as a danger is not surprising, especially given the Pfiels= ability to extricate their son from repercussions of his actions.

     Steven was known to be a problem student at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School (Cytrynbaum, 1996a; Cytrynbaum, 1996e; Sloan & McWhirter, 1993c).  He was suspended from high school seven times (Cytrynbaum, 1996e; Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  Steven was chronically truant in his last year of high school and was accused of being abusive to other students (Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  In the months before Steven murdered Hillary Norskog, his grades suffered, his moods became darker, and his behavior became erratic (Cytrynbaum, 1996a).  According to friend Anthony Gagner, Steven had the worst grades of all his friends and did not enjoy school at all (Caro & Martin, 1995b).
     Steven=s problem behaviors do not begin in high school or the few months before he commits his first murder.  Instead, he had a history of violent and abusive behavior that dated back at least ten years (Cytrynbaum, 1996b).  At age seven, Steven brutally beat a schoolmate (Cytrynbaum, 1996e).  The incident was so bad that neighbors called police (Cytrynbaum, 1996e).  It is also at this age that Steven is alleged to have set fire to a motor home of someone who had upset him (Murphy & Healy, 1999).  Around this same time, police were called to stop a schoolyard fight that involved both Steven and Roger (Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  At age eight, Steven was dropping rocks and bricks off of overpasses in an attempt to hit cars passing below (Cytrynbaum, 1996e).  At his ninth birthday party, an agitated Steven chased another boy with an axe (Cytrynbaum, 1996e).  When he was in fifth grade, neighbors petitioned the school to let Steven have his own bus stop in front of his home in an effort to keep him from assaulting and bullying the other children (Cytrynbaum, 1996e).  Around this same time, Steven was sought by the Palos Park police as a suspect in an act of vandalism that took place during the Palos Park village Halloween party (Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  During his elementary school years, Steven taunted other students with death chants and even vandalized a students home with a knife and spray painted Satanic symbols (Murphy & Healy, 1999).

     As Steven grew older, his behavior became more consistent.  He went from endangering others to primarily endangering himself (Caro & Martin, 1995b; Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  Steven began to drink and use drugs (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  He was cited for underage possession of alcohol (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  He and a close friend were arrested for possession of marijuana (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Friends admitted that Steven drank and smoke pot, and occasionally took LSD, but would not qualify him as a chronic abuser (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Some concerned parents of Steven=s friends thought differently, citing his heavy use of drugs and alcohol (Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  Still, this was not enough for them to engage the Pfiels in a discussion about Steve or to ask their children to stop being friends with Steven.
     Steven also had a serious need to satisfy his thrill-seeking impulses (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  Ed Prasauskas, a friend of Steven=s, recounted that the two of them took turns riding the hood of a car as it sped along at eighty miles per hour (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  Steven and Roger had contests to see who could keep a lit cigarette between his forearms the longest (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  This was not a rare occurrence, and Steven=s wrists and forearms were dotted with burns (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  At age fourteen, Steven broke his leg riding a gas powered ATV on forest preserve property, an act that is illegal B though no legal action was ever taken against him for the infraction (Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  Two years later, the police warn Steven and Roger after they ride snowmobiles across a neighbors property (Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  At a party on the 4th of July, 1993, Steven threw a firecracker into a crowd of people and became agitated when others were bothered by the incident (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).

     Perhaps the most damning acts of Steven Pfiel before the murder are also those that received the least attention.  There was no concern shown by his parents when Steven developed a fascination with Adolph Hitler and joined a group of skinheads (Cytrynbaum, 1996e).  Friends were not disturbed by Steven=s frequent successful attempts to kill small animals with his car (Caro, 1995e;  Murphy & Healy, 1999; Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Friend Rob Nillson found the behavior fun (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Steven was forceful with teenage girls when it came to sex, but friends discounted this as typical teenage behavior (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  Friends did not seem particularly concerned that Steven once held a loaded gun to another friend=s head (Cytrynbaum, 1996a; Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  Friend Ed Prasauskas didn=t find it disconcerting when Steven pulled a knife out from under his car seat and told him that he had fantasies about stabbing someone in the head with it (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  This act was repeated with other friends, calling the knife he eventually used to murder Hillary Norskog a new toy given to him by his father (Caro & O=Brien, 1995; Cytrynbaum, 1996a).  In fact, it should be noted that Steven Pfiel, who came from a wealthy family, a boy who had a pool table in his bedroom both in Palos Park and Crete, asked for a relatively inexpensive hunting knife for his seventeenth birthday (Cytrynbaum, 1996g; Heinzmann, 2001; Murphy & Healy, 1999).  Between the two murders, Steven destroyed his stereo speakers with a pool cue in a fit of rage in front of one of his friends, and denied having done it the next day (Caro & Martin, 1995b).

    Steven=s parents, Roger, Sr. and Gayle Pfiel, may not have been as involved in his life to an extent to properly judge their son=s behavior.  Steven was a spoiled child (Caro & Martin, 1995b; Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  While living in Palos Park, the Pfiel house was a frequent cite of gathering and parties for friends of Steven and Roger (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  This was largely due to the fact that the parents were often absent or, when at home, did not venture to the wing of the house where the children=s rooms were (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  Even after Steven=s behavior became strained at school and his drug use increased, the only rule imposed on him was to come home for dinner (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Marsha Norskog alleged that the Pfiels never taught Steven that he needed to take responsibility for his actions (Cytrynbaum, 1996d).  Indeed, it was the parents who happily gave Steven the knife he would use to kill his first victim (Cytrynbaum, 1996g; Heinzmann, 2001; Murphy & Healy, 1999).
    In attempting to defend themselves from Marsha Norskog=s lawsuit against them as negligent parents who provided Steven with the tools B knife and car B and opportunity for the murder of Hillary, the Pfiels gave several contradictory statements.  Where the lawsuit argued it would have been impossible to ignore Steven=s decade long history of criminal, hostile, and antisocial behavior (McMorrow & Harrison, 2001), the Pfiels claimed that Steven had instead always been a loving, caring child (Caro, 1995k; Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  Indeed, Gayle Pfiel likened the accusations of the Pfiels being negligent as parents as being as great an offense as Steven having murdered Hillary and Roger (Caro, 1995k; Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  Moreover, Michael Borders, the Pfiels= attorney argued that there was some kind of monster hidden within Steven and there could no way for his parents to have foreseen that of which Steven was capable (Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  Borders dismissed the similarities between Steven=s pre-murder behavior and that of Laurie Dann, and stated that there was no case against his client because it is not a crime to be an imperfect parent (Cytrynbaum, 1996b).  Borders went so far as to state that Steven had not been wreaking havoc on the community, so there was no threshold met for parental intervention (Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  The Pfiels would later allege that Steven=s friends had transform him from the boy they knew into someone they could no longer recognize (Cytrynbaum, 1996e).  Uncle Wayne Pfiel compared what happened to Steven to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Caro & Martin, 1995a).

     The Pfiels contended that they could not be expected to control their seventeen year old son (Cytrynbaum, 1996h).  However, it is more likely that their consistent lack of involvement contributed to the conditions that allowed for both murders and the sexual assault (Cytrynbaum, 1996a; Sloan & McWhirter, 1993b).  Psychiatrist Stephen Herman opined that when parents are presented with the consistent pattern of violent and aggressive behavior in which Steven engaged, they should seek professional help for the child (Cytrynbaum, 1996e).  The Pfiels did seek help at some point in Steven=s childhood, but there is little evidence that this was engaged in seriously or had any lasting results (Cytrynbaum, 1996c).
     The Pfiels had no concern about Steven=s involvement in Hillary=s disappearance prior to his arrest.  Roger Pfiel, Sr. was not present at Steven=s arraignment in the Norskog murder (McWhirter, 1993).  Neither parent attended any of the grand jury proceedings (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993a).  Gayle and her daughter went to Indiana in the wake of Steven=s initial arrest (Sloan & McWhirter, 1993c).  Most damningly, both parents were absent then night that their eldest son was murdered and their daughter was raped (Caro, 1995c; Nordgren, 1995).  Instead, they were in Chicago, drinking in celebration of St. Patrick=s Day (Nordgren, 1995).
     When Steven was evaluated by Dr. Matthew Markos to determine fitness to stand trial in the Norskog case, he was found to have deeply rooted emotional issues, but not so bad as to hinder his ability to assist in his own defense (Ziemba, 1998).  During the ninety minute interview, Dr. Markos found Steven to be cooperative throughout and of average intelligence (Caro, 1995j).  Dr. Markos stated that Steven showed no signs of mental illness during the interview (Caro, 1995f; Caro, 1995j).  Steven displayed no anxiety during the interview, and only became annoyed when his crimes were mentioned (Caro, 1995j).

     Not only was Steven not likely to experience much anxiety, he was also consistently remorseless.  Friends recounted that Steven viewed the pending murder trial as an event of little consequence (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  Steven was confident that he was going to be acquitted and reap great financial rewards from suing the newspapers (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  Steven was characterized as a user of girls when it came to sex (Caro & Martin, 1995b).  He was asleep in his bed when police came to arrest him for Hillary=s murder, even as he knew he was the only suspect (Caro, 1994).  Steven=s first appearance in court after his release on bail was characterized by his odd behavior B alternating between flat, emotionless conversation and laughing, smiling, and joking (Mucha, 1995; Sloan, 1993c).  After pleading to Hillary=s murder, Steven made no comment to the court beyond affirming his guilt (Caro, 1995d).  He did the same thing in pleading to Roger=s murder (Caro, 1995k).  Marsha Norskog was taken aback that Steven took neither opportunity to explain why he murdered or to say that he was sorry (Caro, 1995k).  This led her to describe Steven as a Aremorseless creature@ (Caro, 1995d).  Even when it became clear that the only option Steven had to avoid a possible death penalty was to plea guilty in both cases, he was still upset that he would not be going free (Caro, 1995c).  When led from the courthouse after pleading guilty to Roger=s murder, Steven was asked by reporters if he had anything to say.  Steven raised two middle fingers in response (Nordgren, 1995).  As an inmate, Steven made an appeal for pen pals that not only showcased his lack of empathy, but also highlighted his narcissism (Prisoner Pen Pal Appeals, 2001 - see notes for full text).
    Where Steven did show some remorse was in hearing about his brother=s murder (Caro, 1995k).  Roger was Steven=s closest friend and strongest supporter (Caro, 1995a; Caro, 1995k).  Clearly, there was a strong emotional bond between the two of them (Nordgren, 1995).  When the details of Roger=s murder were read into the record, Steven was observed wiping a tear from his eye (Caro, 1995k).

     The preceding evidence lays out the history of Steven Pfiel.  It is now the objective of this paper to put that information in the proper context.  It will show that Steven Pfiel meets the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) and the necessary diagnosis of having Conduct Disorder (CD).  It will also show that Steven meets the criteria for psychopathy, both as measured by the PCL-R and PCL-YV B the latter necessary due to Steven=s age at his first murder.  It will also make the case that Steven meets the criteria for being a serial killer and a sexual sadist.
     Widiger et al. (1996) made the case that the PCL-R is likely a better alternative in assessing what is underlying the behaviors necessary for a diagnosis of ASPD.  These authors also made specific mention that an arrest record is not necessary for ASPD, though this is a moot point in the case of Steven Pfiel.  Hare and Neumann (2009) noted that the personality features of ASPD are not necessary for its diagnosis.  Hare and Neumann (2009) also state that the DSM-IV confuses the issue of proper diagnosis by equating psychopathy to ASPD.  Accepting those valid arguments B especially noting that it may be Steven Pfiel=s psychopathy influencing an ASPD diagnosis.  Clearly Steven does not meet the criteria for ASPD at the time of his first murder as he was not yet eighteen years old.  In evaluating Steven at the time of Roger=s murder, he meets all of the qualifications presented in the DSM-IV-TR B including having six of the seven qualifiers of section A (APA, 2000), lacking only evidence of persistent deceitfulness for profit or pleasure.  In looking at Widiger et al=s (2009) alternative criteria for ASPD, Steven meets five of the seven.

     As for the required diagnosis of CD, Steven meets all of the requirements for childhood-onset CD (APA, 2000; Myers & Scott, 1998).  He has been shown to have been aggressive to people B physically, and to a lesser extent sexually B and more so towards animals.  He had taken actions to both damage and destroy property.  He had a history of truancy.  He engaged in fire-setting.  These behaviors caused neighbors, school officials, and police officers to become involved.  This behavior clearly began before the age of ten.  It is also possible that there was a bidirectional relationship between Steven=s spiraling grades and his escalating behavior (Myers & Scott, 1998).
     In terming Steven a psychopath, it is important to make the case that he not only would have appropriate scores on the diagnostic tests but also evinces the traits of a psychopath.  On the interpersonal level (Hare & Neumann, 2009; Widiger et al., 1996), Steven can be seen as being deceptive B mostly in regards to his criminal behaviors, dominant through intimidation, manipulative, and superficial in most of his relationships.  On the interpersonal level (Häkkänen-Nyholm & Hare, 2009; Hare & Neumann, 2009; Neumann & Hare, 2008; Widiger et al., 1996), Steven can be seen to have a lack of strong emotional bonds with most people B the notable exception being his second murder victim, older brother Roger.  He also showed no evidence of remorse or guilt for his crimes outside of tattooing his brother=s initials with R.I.P. and 3-17-95 on his left arm (, 2010).  Steven=s superficial charm may best be understood in noting that some friends stood by him after the murder (Caro & Martin, 1995b), and one even noted that she would have hidden Steven from the police after murdering his brother had he asked her.  It also comes up in his impression management that may be seen in his evaluation with Dr. Markos.

     According to the ten item checklist for psychopathy presented in Widiger et al. (2009), Steven meets all ten.  He is most certainly arrogant, lacks empathy, behaved in a consistently irresponsible manner, and evinced a superficial charm.  In an amateur=s assessment of Steven=s scores on the underlying elements of the PCL-R and PCL-YV (Hare & Neumann, 2009), he scores near (29) and above (31) the threshold for psychopathy.  Some of these features may occur in normally developing adolescents B evidence of Steven using shaving cream to vandalize a car or riding a snowmobile on someone else=s property (Cytrynbaum, 1996h) are hardly cause for concern by themselves B but when taken all together, there is no mistaking the underlying psychopathy.  Moreover, Steven=s extreme thrill-seeking behavior is consistent with psychopathy (Pereira, Huband, & Duggan, 2008).  Steven=s enduring behavior of ignoring or breaking accepted social norms from childhood on is consistent with psychopathy (Häkkänen-Nyholm & Hare, 2009; Neumann & Hare, 2008).  Steven sought no psychiatric help on his own, acknowledged his crimes only when it would spare him from the death penalty, and never expressed any distress over his actions or situation, all qualities consistent with psychopathy (Hare & Neumann, 2009).   Neumann and Hare (2008) wrote of psychopathy as a summed total of violent and aggressive behavior, which can and does in the case of Steven Pfiel include the use of a knife and alcohol.

     Häkkänen-Nyholm and Hare (2009) noted that psychopathic offenders are likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system at a young age.  This certainly applies to Steven.  It was also noted (Häkkänen-Nyholm & Hare, 2009) that psychopaths are more likely to get conditional release, even in cases involving extreme violence.  This is also consistent with Steven, though this may have also been affected by his parents= ability to afford top-level legal representation.  Häkkänen-Nyholm and Hare (2009) noted that psychopaths might discuss the horrific details of their crimes in a calm, detached manner.  This is consistent to how Steven detailed the murder of his brother.  Where Steven breaks from this mold of psychopathy comes in terms of his victims.  Psychopaths are less likely to have a female victim B Steven had two B or to kill a close acquaintance or family member, both of which Steven did.
    Porter, Woodworth, Earle, Drugge, and Boer (2003) noted that psychopaths likely engaged in violent crimes to satisfy their thrill-seeking drive.  It was predicted that psychopathic offenders would commit crimes with excessive violence (Porter et al., 2003).  These psychopaths would be more likely to engage in sexual homicide (Porter et al., 2003).  This definitely applies to Steven, both in the case of the murder of Hillary Norskog B where the police were shocked by the level of violence used B and in the murder of his brother and immediate subsequent rape of his sister.
     Next, it must be noted that by the definition offered by Santtila et al. (2008), Steven Pfiel is a serial killer.  He murdered two different people with a significant and distinct cooling off period.  Where Steven does not fit the pattern is that he had both a female and male victim B serial killers tend to have young, female victims (Santilla et al., 2008).  Moreover, it would appear that Steven was motivated by his passions in the murder of Hillary Norskog.  Much of the details of Hillary=s murder are consistent with most serial killers (Santilla et al., 2008).

     Steven Pfiel is also engaged in sexual homicide, though this is confused by the lack of detail in the Norskog murder and his sexual activity being with someone other than his second victim.  However, as Porter et al. (2003) note, a sexual homicide requires only that there is sexual activity before, during, or after the murder, and these conditions are met in both Steven=s murders.  Hare and Neumann (2009) note that psychopathy, when combined with deviant sexual arousal, becomes a strong predictor of violence.  Steven=s deviant sexual arousal was clearly linked to his fantasies about stabbing people, especially in the head.  Porter et al. (2003) noted that sexual sadists often turn these desires into severe, gratuitous acts of violence against their partner.  As much as Hillary Norskog was Steven=s partner at the time of the murder, this most certainly applies.
     Federoff (2008) notes that self-identification of compulsive masturbating and fire-setting are strong predictors of sexual sadism.  Little is known about Steven=s masturbation habits, but he does have a history of fire-setting.  It is also possible that the fantasy, planning, and follow-through of stabbing someone in the head was the sexually gratifying act in the Norskog murder (Federoff, 2008).  Nitchske, Osterheider, and Morkos (2009) write that a sexual sadism is characterized by recurrent fantasies and sexual urges related inflicting physical suffering on others.  These urges and fantasies need to reach a level where there is an impairment in the functioning of the individual (Nitchske et al., 2009).  This may be part of the factor in Steven=s declining academic performance and increased incidents of antisocial and criminal behavior in the few months before he murdered Hillary Norskog.  Nitschke et al. (2009) noted that the sexual sadist is more likely to mutilate nonsexual parts of the body B which Steven did with Hillary B and gratuitously wound victims, which Steven did in both murders.
     Lastly, Santtila et al. (2008) offer the best possible explanation as to Steven=s motivation.  It is known that psychopaths are more likely to engage in instrumental aggression than nonpsychopaths (Santtila et al., 2008).  However, they make the argument that there is also expressive aggression (Santtila et al., 2008).  The motive of expressive aggression is to inflict an act of violence on another or the intense wish of harming another (Santtila et al., 2008).  Other than satisfying deviant sexual desires, it is entirely liking that Steven Pfiel was motivated by a desire to hurt others.  This makes him a sexual sadist, or in the alternative, an extreme sadist.

     This paper has laid out the history of Steven Pfiel and the subsequent framework by which it may be understood.  While far from an authoritative source on ASPD, CD, psychopathy, serial homicide, or sexual sadism, it attempts to include them to the degree necessary to relate to the behavior and actions of Steven Pfiel.  It showcases that Steven meets most criteria for all of the categories, but has occasions of not meeting the expectations of his traits.  A more comprehensive paper may be undertaken in the future with an attempt to obtain an actual score on the PCL-R and an interview with Mr. Pfiel.

Steven Pfiel=s penpal appeal, written in 2002.
LONELY AND FORGOTTEN.  W/M, 25, 180lbs., 6'1", Brown hair, grey eyes, doing life and have been abandoned by all!  Am intelligent, witty, athletic, physically fit.  My hobbies include watching classic TV, sports, and trivia shows; music of all types.  I play sports and lift weights.  I love reading best-selling, old classic, and historical novels.  I=ve been incarcerated for seven years and have missed out on so much.  ISO female penpals for longterm correspondence sharing my thoughts, feelings, and experiences.  Love to write letters and receive them in return.  I am just a lonely man who needs a friend.  Replies to all!  Photo for photo.  Write STEVEN PFIEL #B69109, P.O. Box 771, Menard. IL 62259-0711

American Psychiatric Association.  (2001).  Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed. Text Revision).  Washington, DC: Author
Caro, M. (1994, December 7). Trial starts in Palos girl's killing - defendant tries to quash arrest, evidence. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M. (1995, April 13). Trial date set in Palos girl's death - Pfiel also faces Will charges. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M. (1995, April 26). Pfiel psychiatric exam ordered. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M. (1995, August 17). Pfiel set to admit killing 2 - agreement means life in prison for teen. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M. (1995, August 19). Pfiel gets 100 years in Norskog murder - killer of 13-year-old girl shows no remorse. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M. (1995, August 7). Crime suits point fingers at parents - more claiming killer's families share blame. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M. (1995, July 19). Pfiel may plead guilty in slaying. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M. (1995, June 22). Pfiel's next move depends on tests - psychiatric results key to deal or trial. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M. (1995, March 20). Pfiel's bail questioned anew - brother's killing recalls warning in '93 on suspect. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M. (1995, March 29). Lawyers get newest data about Pfiel. Chicago Tribune, p. 2.
Caro, M. (1995, May 26). Pfiel's lawyer says talks going on about a plea deal. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.

Caro, M. (1995, October 21). Pfiel admits 2nd murder; confession read to court. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M., & Martin, A. (1995, March 21). Pfiel charged in sex attack. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M., & Martin, A. (1995, March 26). 'I now know I am guilty of 2 murders' - Pfiel left parents a note after slaying, police say. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Caro, M., & O'Brien, J. (1995, July 13). Pfiel's parents target of suit - victim's mother claims negligence. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Cytrynbaum, P. (1996, August 20). Norksog's lawsuit is bolstered - Pfiels can be held responsible, judge says. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
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Cytrynbaum, P. (1996, February 22). Mom of slain can seek killer's confidential records. Chicago Tribune, p. 6.
Cytrynbaum, P. (1996, January 30). Suit blames parents for deadly son - slain girl's mother alleges negligence. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Cytrynbaum, P. (1996, June 27). Suit says Pfiel beat, bullied kids - killer signs were neglected, it says. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
Cytrynbaum, P. (1996, May 23). School files of murderer are sought - victim's mother asks court for Pfiel's records. Chicago Tribune, p. 6.
Cytrynbaum, P. (1996, May 31). Slain girl's mom wins court bid - parts of murderer's record will be aired. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.

Cytrynbaum, P. (1996, October 24). Lawsuit over slaying gives Pfiels a chance to reply. Chicago Tribune, p. 1.
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  1. Rot in hell steve.

    1. He may have already found true love in the shower room.

  2. Always wondered about him. I worked at the Palos Park Village Hall in the early 1990s, and I called the police on him and his friends twice for trying to break windows.

  3. I live in Palos park...remember the skateboard ramp in front of the spoiled brats house. He dumped the body by our fort when we were kids near palos west school. police had is blocked off when we went there.....still remember the exact spot were she was found. Theere had been a sand type substance dumped there to cover blood. That was a long time ago.

  4. I went to palos south with this guys. Wow crazy


  6. I've learned to never let parasitic reporters quote me.

  7. You definitely did a lot of research, so it is all the more perplexing that you did not seem to proof read for grammar and spelling mistakes.

  8. This kid chris(red) was suppose to hook him up with LSD,when he first got bailed out.All his friends said LSD is what did him in mentally.This guy Joe,we use to call (cypresschahill) said he felt bad for all the LSD he sold him. Horrible tale from the 90's

  9. Not saying at all,LSD was alone the cause. But provided the break from reality and sense in a already disturbed kid. After all this time the murder of this young girl is so haunting. God bless her soul and her family. Hillary's soul and essence will always be alive in our community.

  10. This article is so old, no one will read my comment but I'm still going to tell my story. Hillary was found on the morning of my 8th grade grad party. We shared the same best friends and so my party became a sordid, surreal, memorial where, strangely enough, all of her closest friends were predestined to be together. We had all gone Palos East and South together. And as it so happened, my older brother was in Stevens class and his circle of friends mixed with mine, so some of Stevens closest friends showed up at my "party" as well. I know, or knew, every person mentioned above. At least 4 of the people quoted in this paper were there. One of them, was in my brothers wedding. And, he actually dated-for a long time- one of Hillary's very best friends. Also, Pfiels sister was best friends with my best friends younger brothers, which all just goes to show how intertwined the social circles were. And everyone knew Steven did it. The Scahills, quoted in the paper, were notorious stoners, and yes, Steven absolutely got a lot of acid from Joe. When this all happened, I remember the Scahills defending Steven, claiming to have insider info that proved Pfiel was innocent. Their support of him was the only factor that gave some of his friends pause in jumping to conclusions, but it quickly fell apart because the truth was too obvious. Obvious, that is,to everyone except his ineffectual, negligent, atrocious parents. Anyways, we all dealt with Hillary's murder the best way that children could be expected to. We moved along with life since there's really no other option, but the darkness that touched us from so many angles would turn up in strange moments, like when slumber parties inevitably ended up being late night seances, using Ouija boards, or other tools trying to connect with her, trying to understand that which could never be understood. But each one of us, even those kids who weren't her bffs, were forever changed. Some people just have a crazy story to tell about a girl in their school who was killed, and others were damaged in a way that they never truly recovered. Some of her very best friends, like one mentioned above, turned to hard drug addiction in high school, one even overdosed, perhaps trying to forget and end their own feelings of guilt for not protecting her, not preventing her murder when there were so many signs that trouble was,...this story is old, but even thinking his name brings me back to that day. I won't go into the ways this serial killers actions have effected me, but suffice it to say, I have never, ever again celebrated a graduation.

  11. Wow,you really add a lot of perspective to this horrible incident. I cant imagine finding out about the gruesome murder of your friend.Being so young,on a day that should've been full of excitement for your 8th grade graduation party. This killer not just taking the life of a young girl who had so much more life to live.But also stealing the carefree innocence of so many who knew her. Effecting them for all their lives,for their young minds being forced to process such gruesome,horrid,sickening and evil act you and your circle of friends had to endure. 13 a age when life is exciting, becoming your own person,everything is new,a wide open future ahead of you,slightly breaking away from childhood. As I previously said after so many years this is still so haunting.

  12. I knew Roger socially. Friend of a friend deal. While we weren't friends by any stretch, we got along fine. I felt equal parts empathy and animosity at his insistence upon his brother's innocence.

    People blaming drugs and/or parenting for Steven's actions miss the forest for the trees. Psychopaths aren't made, they just aren't stopped. He was born this way, defective.

  13. I'm working on a docu series that focuses on juvenile offenders, and one of the stories we are looking at is Steven Pfeil. We have a mandate from our network to not sensationalize, and it is our fondest hope that this can be used as a preventative measure. If anyone has any photos or anything regarding this story you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call me in production at 818 688 4288 extension 308. Thank you.

  14. I found this blog after watching a show about this murderer. The article was very i formative but I am a bit baffled with the comment that psychopaths seldom have a female victim. That doesn't sound right. Do you, by any chance, have statistics on this? Not all psychopaths are serial killers but most of not all serial killers are psychopaths and serial killers mostly murder women. Outside of that unclear comment in the article it was well written.

    1. I was a very close friend of Hillary, his first victim. As a matter of fact, I was supposed to be with her that fateful night. And it has haunted me to this very day that things may have had a different outcome. Not a day goes by that I don't think of who she would have became or where the life she was robbed of would have brought her. She was such a beautiful and trusting soul who saw only the good in everyone. As heartbreaking as it is to read some of the details, I still 20+ years later long to know why. David Gomez, I am curious to what show you were referring to in your above post. If you have any information you can give me so I may be able to find it, I would be most appreciative. Although Hillary will never be with us again physically on this earth, she will always live in the hearts of those who knew her and loved her. She is more than just "his first victim" and a headline in the news, she was a beautiful young girl with a big heart who trusted the wrong person. R.I.P Hillary, you will never for forgotten <3

    2. I don't know if this is the same with what David Gomez mentioned or not.
      But I just watched a show called Killer Kids, season 3 episode 9, entitled The One Percent and Why Not, and there's this case on it.

    3. I just watched it on killer kids also search her name on killer kids it should come up.
      I was reading a comment somewhere else in here someone says they tried warning heart hat she was to young to hang in their group and he actually showed him/her the knife he would kill Hillary with the day before the murder. I can't believe some ppl.

  15. Fuck that puke and his parents that were trying to hide it....they got what they deserved.

  16. I came here via the "Killer Kids" episode mentioned above and the facts it portrays, bad as they are, fall short when added to some of the facts added here. Steven may have been born a psychopath but, I have to wonder to what degree his parents shared those traits. They certainly had no regard for the victim and her family, and the facts attesting to his guilt in her murder were damning. He was caught red-handed washing her blood out of his car for crying out loud. They used their money and influence to get several credulous judges to not only allow him bail for the first murder, but to anonymously relocate. They callously endangered everyone around them and served their other children up to their pampered little monster on a silver platter. Any pain they might feel for his final crimes is not enough in my opinion.

    Does anyone know the results of the Norskog lawsuit against them? Frankly they seem entitled to every penny the Pfiels own.

  17. And they aired it again? I thought he was dead? He doesn't deserve to breathe!

  18. Very poorly written, poorly laid out, and not a true "case study." This "paper" contains multiple errors (i.e. an individual cannot meet the criteria for both ASPD and CD). The fact if Pfiel was a serial murder is up to date; as many definitions require three victims over three separate incidences with a cooling period in between (i.e. Protection of Children from Sexual Predator Act of 1998).

  19. Thank you all for the comments and especially for the post. Surprisingly little info online about this case.