Fredrick Pefferle killing, 1973

Guy Roofener the day of his arrest, escorted by Sangamon County Sheriff Hugh Campbell (James Galloway photo courtesy State Journal-Register)

Fred Pefferle didn’t get along with his ex-wife. Sandra Pefferle Roofener had custody of their three elementary school-age daughters, and Pefferle repeatedly litigated the manner of their upbringing. As one observer at the time commented, “You didn’t have to know Fred for very long before you understood how obsessed he was with his divorce and how bitter he was towards his ex-wife.”

Sandra’s new husband was Guy Roofener, 43, the owner of the Warehouse tavern, 620 S. First St. in Springfield. The Warehouse was the hottest late-night spot in town, closing at 3 a.m. It also was frequented by a rough crowd, exemplified by a 1970 fistfight between Pefferle and Guy Roofener. By all accounts, Pefferle started the fight, but Roofener finished it.

On March 9, 1973, Pefferle  filed one more petition questioning how Sandra was raising their children. It would be his last. Pefferle was killed 14 days later.

In the petition, Pefferle (1921-73) objected to their daughters being enrolled in a public school and to their using the last name of Roofener instead of Pefferle. He asked for an order requiring the children to be enrolled in a Catholic school and reared as Catholics and that Sandra be prohibited from using the Roofener name for the girls.

The crime

Ten days after the filing, Roofener allegedly asked Jack Brady and Robert Lofgren, regulars at the Warehouse, to “rough up” Pefferle to the point where it “would be in the newspaper.” Prosecutors said he agreed to pay Brady and Lofgren $2,000 and provided them with Pefferle’s address on Fairview Lane near Lake Springfield.

Fred Pefferle (SJ-R)

Roofener asked that Pefferle be attacked between March 23 and March 26, when Roofener would be out of town.

Brady and Lofgren, in turn, met a few days later with an acquaintance, Rollie Elsner, who owed them $380. If Elsner would “do the job,” they said, they would forgive the debt. By all accounts, Elsner, typically for him, was under the influence of various drugs. He agreed to the deal.

At 1:50 a.m. March 24,1973, a woman who lived near Pefferle heard cries for help. Thinking a fisherman had fallen in the lake, she walked to the dock and found no one, but she could still hear the cries. She asked her daughter to call state police. She then heard a blaring car horn.

The woman’s husband and son, along with another neighbor, sought the source of the distress calls. They found Pefferle, bleeding profusely, lying in the front seat of his new Cadillac.

One of the responders went home to call an ambulance, while the others tried to help Pefferle. Pefferle told them a man had shot him. He had a headache, Pefferle said, and was “numb all over.”

When state trooper Terry Ward arrived at 2:10 a.m., Pefferle repeated three more times that he had been shot. These were the last cogent statements of Pefferle’s life.

Pefferle arrived by ambulance at St. John’s Hospital at 2:40 a.m. He was pronounced dead at 3:23 a.m. The gunshot to his right leg had torn an artery, and he died from blood loss. The bullets had been fired at close range while Pefferle was face down on the floor of the car. Ligature marks on his wrist, ankles and chest revealed that he had been tied up.


Illinois State Police and the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office, headed by Hugh Campbell, investigated the crime. Detective William Pennell directed the state police team, working with sheriff’s investigators Barry Brown and Jim Price.

On the day of the killing, a homeowner on South Spring Street found a .22 caliber handgun, a ski mask and a jacket in his alley incinerator. He turned the items over to police. Tests concluded the bullets that killed Pefferle were consistent with the recovered handgun, but they could not be definitively connected to the weapon.

Among the first people investigators questioned were Guy and Sandra Roofener. Guy Roofener said he had met Pefferle a few times, including the fight at the Warehouse two or three years earlier. However, Roofener said he didn’t know anyone who might want to hurt Pefferle.

Sandra described the couple’s divorce as non-contested, but said Pefferle had filed “a number of papers” merely to harass her. She had many unpleasant comments about her ex-husband and his relationship with their children.

Early on, the investigators also looked into other suspects, including a former girlfriend who claimed Pefferle had defrauded her of a substantial amount of money and a Morgan County man who believed Pefferle had taken $160,000 from him in a settlement involving his wife. The former girlfriend allegedly said she knew people who could “take care” of Pefferle. The Morgan County man owned a .22 caliber pistol and reportedly had been seen in a Springfield tavern the night of March 23.

A week after the slaying, Pennell received a tip that Elsner had been the trigger man in the Pefferle case. Another informant told Pennell that Brady and another man had hired the killer.

Meanwhile, Elsner was jailed for contempt of court as the result of disturbances at the Sangamon County Building on April 5, 1973.

Questioning Elsner at the jail, Pennell and Price confronted him with the jacket and gun found in the Spring Street incinerator. The jacket contained his brand of cigarettes. Elsner admitted the jacket was his, but he denied ever seeing the gun before and denied any role in the murder.

After three hours of interrogation, Elsner was placed in a holding cell and given a meal served on a plastic cafeteria tray. Fifteen minutes later, he was observed with “a great amount of blood” on his body and splattered around the cell. Elsner had broken the plastic tray and used the edge to slit his wrist in an apparent suicide attempt. Elsner was treated at St. John’s Hospital and taken back to jail, where the interrogation resumed.

Questioning continued for several days, during parts of which Elsner managed to take some narcotics he had hidden in his clothing. (Elsner later said he was under the influence of barbiturates, “angel dust” and Tuinals during various points in the questioning.) Elsner ultimately admitted taking part in the assault on Pefferle, but then refused to sign a formal confession.

Elsner also said several times during the interview that he was “too messed up” the night of March 24 and he had trouble remembering details.

Elsner said he did remember that he had talked to Brady and Lofgren at the Warehouse early that evening. Sitting in Brady’s car, the two told Elsner they would clear his debt if he would go into a house and rough up the occupant to the point that he would “be put out of the way for a week or two.” Elsner said he agreed and they drove to Pefferle’s house.

After donning a ski mask and receiving a gun from Brady, he went in through an unlocked door, Elsner said. Seeing Pefferle standing by a television, Elsner said, he told Pefferle to lie on the floor. But it seemed to him that Pefferle was running for the door and then slipped, falling to the floor. (Elsner claimed not to know anything about Pefferle being tied up, although at one point he said Pefferle might have slipped because he was tied up.)

Elsner said he fired two shots, intending just to scare Pefferle. But he said heard a groan and, figuring he had shot Pefferle, ran out the front door.

Elsner got back in the car, where he said he told Brady and Lofgren he accidentally shot Pefferle. Elsner told the other two to call an ambulance, he said, but Brady refused to stop. They traveled back to the Warehouse. Elsner said Brady or Lofgren told him his jacket, the ski mask, and the gun had been thrown into an incinerator while the group was on its way back to the Warehouse.

Upon arriving, Brady supposedly went to a phone booth to call for an ambulance but returned and said he did not complete the call because he had been asked to give his name. Brady refused to make another attempt.

Elsner said he recalled Eddington was at the Warehouse when they returned, but he could not remember if Eddington was there before he, Brady and Lofgren left for Pefferle’s house.

Arrests and plea bargains

Elsner, Brady, Lofgren and a fourth man, James Eddington, were arrested April 9. (Prosecutors said Eddington knew in advance about the planned attack on Pefferle and encouraged Elsner to commit the crime.) Roofener was arrested April 12. All were held without bond. Sheriff Campbell told reporters, “I think this wraps it up.”

Roofener was released on $500,000 bond, part of which was posted by Sandra Roofener’s father. The Illinois State Journal reported that this was the largest bond in Sangamon County history. The same bond was set for the other defendants.

The case was assigned to Judge Howard Lee White of Jersey County.

Lofgren and then Brady agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy charges in return for all other charges being dropped. Lofgren was released on bond, but Brady remained in jail on unrelated charges. (Campbell allowed Brady conjugal visits with his girlfriend, and she became pregnant while Brady was in jail.)

Newspaper advertisement for the Warehouse, 1972 (SJ-R)


The trial began on Sept. 24, 1973, a mere six months after the crime. This is a very rapid timeline for any murder case, but especially so for such a complicated case. However, the killing was the subject of extensive media attention, and law enforcement was under pressure for a solution.

White refused a defense request to move the trial out of Sangamon County, but he did agree, as prosecutors asked, to sequester the jury. One participant at the time commented that sequestration leads to a jury of “the very young, the very old and the very unemployed.” More than 200 prospective jurors were questioned over 13 days before a final panel was selected. The jury was sequestered at what was then the Holiday Inn South (in 2024, the business was the Route 66 Hotel).

Roofener was represented by Jack Weiner and Bob Heckenkamp, widely viewed as the leading trial lawyers in Springfield. Heckenkamp was “an elite litigator, always well prepared and possessing a large physical presence and a booming voice,” while Weiner was described as “everybody’s favorite uncle.” Assistant public defender Cap O’Keefe, 29 years old and with less than two years of legal experience, represented Elsner

Eddington’s attorney was Paul Wanless, who, though a well-known lawyer, had never before tried a criminal case. Eddington was unpredictable, uncontrollable and loud, and he and Wanless didn’t get along. At one point, Eddington grabbed Wanless by the lapels of his jacket and yelled that Wanless had stabbed him with a pen. Trial observers called their antagonism “a real sideshow.”

There were other sideshows. While the jury was in the jury room during a break in the trial, one of Elsner’s witnesses, state prison inmate Julian “Babe” Gabriel, surreptitiously grabbed the keys to the room and hid it in a couch. The jury was locked in the room for over an hour. The trial also had to stop for several hours at another point because of a riot in the jail a floor above. The melee reportedly was instigated by several state inmates brought to Sangamon County to testify for Eddington.

Lofgren and Brady were the prosecution’s star witnesses. Their stories mirrored the police theory of the case.

Lofgren said Eddington was the one who suggested the job be given to Elsner. Lofgren also conceded that in return for his testimony, prosecutors promised to ask for leniency when he was sentenced for conspiracy to commit murder.

“Hours of grilling by defense lawyers failed to shake state’s witness Lofgren,” Illinois State Register reporter Fran Bernard wrote. “He remained composed.”

Brady’s testimony paralleled Lofgren’s. He said he had been promised probation in exchange for pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. Elsner, Brady said, was “doped up” at the time of the slaying. That was Elsner’s usual condition, Brady added, but Elsner remained rational during the events.

The state rested its case, after calling 39 witnesses, on Oct. 25.

Roofener, in calm and composed testimony, denied involvement in the murder, denied asking Lofgren and Brady to beat up Pefferle, and denied ever paying them any money for any reason.

Sandra Roofener testified that Pefferle had filed more than a dozen petitions regarding her custody of the children and said she never asked her husband to do something to Pefferle.

Eddington also denied any involvement in the scheme, although Bernard wrote that “Wanless at times could hardly keep his client from saying more than the attorney really wanted to hear.”

Elsner did not testify. Defense witness Gabriel told the jury Elsner was “out of it” the evening of the killing. On cross-examination, Gabriel admitted he heard Elsner, Brady and Lofgren discussing plans to “look over a job” that night, but said he told Elsner he was in no condition to do so.


The case went to the jury Nov. 5. It took jurors only three hours to return “not guilty” verdicts for all three defendants.

Two jurors spoke with reporters afterwards. The jury foreman said simply “the evidence was insufficient,” and another juror said the jury did not believe Brady or Lofgren. There were “too many deals,” that juror said, calling the investigation “slipshod.”

Deputy Jim Price strongly disagreed in a subsequent letter to the editor. He accused jurors of sleeping through testimony and concluded with an apology to the Pefferle family for “the system and its outcome and the total waste.”

Brady was sentenced to five years probation for conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. All other charges were dismissed. Bill Roberts told White it was difficult for him to recommend leniency, but the state had had to choose between accepting lesser pleas in exchange for valuable testimony or going to trial with a weakened case.

“Our belief is that Mr. Brady complied with the agreement,” Roberts said.

Lofgren was sentenced to five years probation after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.


  • Howard Lee White retired from the bench in 1984 after serving as a judge for 20 years. He then practiced law in Jerseyville, dying in 2001.
  • Joe Cavanagh was named a circuit judge in 1979. He retired in 1993 and died in 2014.
  • Robert Heckenkamp continued his long career as an attorney until his death in 2005.
  • Dwight “Cap” O’Keefe gravitated away from criminal law and spent his later career with the firms of Ensel, Jones, Blanchard and LaBarre and then Brown, Hay and Stephens.
  • Bill Roberts was elected Sangamon County state’s attorney and was named central Illinois U.S. attorney by President George H.W. Bush. Following the election of President Bill Clinton, Roberts became a partner with the firm of Hinshaw and Culbertson. He then served as chief legal counsel for Governor Jim Edgar. He was again with Hinshaw in 2024.
  • Jeanne Scott, the first female prosecutor in Sangamon County, went on to be the first woman elected a Sangamon County circuit judge. Clinton named her to the federal bench in 1998. She retired in 2010 and died in 2019.
  • Paul Wanless continued his legal career and was elected to the Springfield convention center board in 1976. In ill health, he committed suicide in 1979.
  • Jerry Wedeking was retired and living in Springfield in 2024.
  • Jack Weiner, who continued his practice as one of the best-known attorneys in Springfield, died in 1987. He was 80.
  • Jack Brady, an immigrant from England, faced deportation following his plea in the Pefferle case. He avoided deportation and became a US citizen in 1987. He later served time in federal prison for wire fraud.
  • Rollie Elsner was sentenced to twelve years probation for burglary in 1975. He died in 2009.
  • James Eddington was later convicted by the prosecution team of Bill Roberts and Jeanne Scott of distributing narcotics. While in jail awaiting trial, he offered to pay someone else to kill a state agent who had investigated a different drug case against him. Eddington was convicted of solicitation to commit murder (the prosecutor was Joe Cavanagh) and sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison.
  • Robert Lofgren was killed in a drug-related shooting in Decatur in 1981. He was 34.
  • Guy Roofener’s whereabouts could not be definitively determined in 2024, although a database search suggests he might have died in the 1980s.

Contributor: Matt Maddox. Maddox, a Springfield native, now lives in Angola, Ind. His father, Joe Maddox, was a partner with Fred Pefferle in the firm of Pefferle, Maddox and Gramlich.

“My father was significantly affected by Pefferle’s death,” Matt Maddox writes. “I do not recall my father ever drinking at home, with the sole exception being the day Pefferle was killed. Being of his generation, my father did not express his emotions. But in connection with Pefferle’s death, he shook his head, sighed and stated, “Life is for the living. We will go on.”

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