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 tim.mcneil93@gmail.com).  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.

15 comments:

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

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  6. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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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