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updated: 11/29/2013 12:52 PM

Neighbor charged with strangling Elgin man

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  • Lonna Zwerenz, left, and her daughter, Alexis, talk about their relative, John Poyer, Thursday at the Elgin Police Department. Poyer was murdered Nov. 22, and Elgin police announced charges against one of his neighbors, Matthew L. Stoecklein.

       Lonna Zwerenz, left, and her daughter, Alexis, talk about their relative, John Poyer, Thursday at the Elgin Police Department. Poyer was murdered Nov. 22, and Elgin police announced charges against one of his neighbors, Matthew L. Stoecklein.
    Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

  • Matthew Stoecklein

      Matthew Stoecklein

  • John Poyer

      John Poyer

 
 

A 55-year-old Elgin man was charged Thursday with murdering his 88-year-old neighbor Nov. 22 during a robbery.

Matthew L. Stoecklein, of the 700 block of Jefferson Street, was arrested Wednesday night in the parking lot of the apartment building in which he John Poyer lived, police said Thursday.

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Cook County prosecutors said Poyer let Stoecklein into his apartment, and after Stoecklein demanded money, he spent 10 minutes strangling Poyer to death. It was so long, Stoecklein told a friend, that his hands began to tire, WBBM reported.

That friend heard the story from Stoecklein twice; the second time the friend was wearing a police wire, WBBM reported.

Stoecklein was held on no bond during an appearance Thursday at the Cook County Criminal Courts building in Chicago.

Besides first-degree murder, Stoecklein has also been charged with felony murder, home invasion and robbery, police said.

Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda declined to say Thursday whether Stoecklein had a criminal history, saying those details would be revealed in court as the case is prosecuted. Kane County court records show a 1993 conviction for possession of a controlled narcotic.

Stoecklein lived on the second floor of the building, which is at Jefferson and Hiawatha. Poyer lived on the first floor.

Poyer's relatives called police Nov. 22 when they found him. They had not heard from him in several days, which was unusual, according to his granddaughter, Lonna Zwerenz, of Elgin.

She and her daughter, Alexis, spoke at a news conference Thursday.

"My Papa was the sweetest man. He was a father figure to me since the day I was born," Lonna Zwerenz said. "He gave everything to people."

They described a loving man who enjoyed spending time with his family going to movies, zoos, museums and other activities. He was a union carpenter, and had served in the Army during World War II. He received the Purple Heart after he nearly lost his legs when he fell into a water-filled trench that froze.

Poyer's wife, Helen, died in 1985.

"The person that did this shattered my heart," said 16-year-old Alexis Zwerenz of Elgin.

She said Poyer watched home videos every morning. "I can't even tell how many home videos we are inheriting," she said.

Poyer was a regular at The Centre in Elgin, opening up the place to work out at 5 a.m. daily for a long time, Lonna Zwerenz said.

And Alexis chuckled when asked how he would have celebrated Thanksgiving Day.

"He hated that we ate late," she said.

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