No bail for neighbor in killing of 88-year-old WWII vet in Elgin

Published: Friday, Nov. 29, 2013 1:48 p.m. CDT

(MCT) — When someone came knocking one night last week, John Poyer opened the door. And in the next 10 minutes the 88-year-old longtime Elgin resident was killed and robbed, authorities said.

According to Cook County prosecutors, Poyer's neighbor Matthew L. Stoecklein, 55, began choking Poyer with his bare hands. Poyer screamed, but it was no use. Then Stoecklein allegedly grabbed $300, left and later told a friend that he grew tired as he choked the octogenarian to death.

In bond court Thursday, Stoecklein, 55, looked expressionless as he was ordered held without bail in the Nov. 21 homicide. With a pair of glasses hanging on one of his two T-shirts, Stoecklein spoke only to correct the judge's pronunciation of his last name.

Meanwhile, in Elgin, Poyer's large family gathered on Thanksgiving morning at the police station to speak about the "great family man" they had lost. He had served in the Army during World War II and received a Purple Heart, they said.

Poyer exercised "religiously," almost every day at the local gym, and he watched home videos of his family every morning, said his great-granddaughter Alexis Zwerenz, 16. She referred to Poyer as her best friend.

"He has been my everything since the day I was born," she said, standing next to her mother, Lonna. "The person that did this shattered my entire world."

Family members kept in contact with Poyer daily and grew worried when they hadn't heard from him. They stopped by his apartment building at Jefferson Street and Hiawatha Drive the next day. That's when they found his body.

An autopsy conducted Monday determined that Poyer died of strangulation and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

Stoecklein, of the 700 block of Jefferson, told someone that it took 10 minutes to commit the crime, prosecutors said. The two lived in the same building.

That individual went to police and volunteered to wear a wire, which later recorded Stoecklein saying he "was getting tired" as he strangled the victim, Assistant State's Attorney Jason Coelho said.

On Wednesday, authorities arrested Stoecklein, a divorced electrician with four kids, according to his public defender. He is charged with first-degree murder, home invasion, robbery and felony murder.

A former union carpenter originally from Des Plaines, Poyer loved to take his family to zoos and museums. On Thanksgiving, Poyer always remarked that he hated how late the family ate, his great-granddaughter joked.

"I really miss him already," said his granddaughter, Lonna Zwerenz.

jmdelgado@tribune.com

(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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