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Events in Brackenridge slaying

These are the important dates in the case of Jerry Pacek.

  • Nov. 17, 1958: Jerry Pacek, 13, of Brackenridge finds the body of Lillian Stevick, 53, of 940 Fourth Ave., Brackenridge, in the back yard of 929 Sixth Ave., Brackenridge, in the early morning hours of Nov. 17. Pacek is questioned by police that night and released.

  • Nov. 18, 1958: Stevick is officially pronounced dead. She had been killed by 19 blows to the head and had been raped.

  • Nov. 19, 1958: Police make Pacek re-enact the murder. Pacek then is taken into police custody and questioned for 17 hours. He makes several confessions to the murder, saying he used a different weapon each time.

  • April 19, 1959: Pacek is found guilty and later sentenced to prison.

  • November 1968: Pacek is released after serving 10 years of a 10- to 20-year sentence.

  • May 1990: Jim Fisher, a former FBI agent and Edinboro University criminology professor, becomes interested in the case.

  • December 1990: Allegheny County District Attorney Bob Colville re-opens the case.

  • March 25, 1991: After five hours of hypnosis, Pacek helps a police artist produce a sketch of the man he saw on the night of the murder.

  • Sept. 12, 1991: State Pardons Board votes unanimously to pardon Pacek.

  • Sept. 13, 1991: Police find what they believe might have been the murder weapon, but they refuse to reveal anything further about the weapon. Years later, Fisher would only say it was a blunt metal instrument found in the basement of a Brackenridge home.

  • Early 1990s: Two suspects are developed and pursued. Police were planning to exhume the body of the murder victim if there was enough DNA on the weapon. But lab tests showed there wasn’t enough DNA. No one was charged.

  • Nov. 15, 1991: Pardon comes through.

  • Mid-1990s: One suspect in the killing dies. Police won’t release his name.

  • January 1997: Fisher publishes a book titled “Fall Guys: False Confessions and the Politics of Murder” about the case.

  • 1997: Federal Judge Donetta Ambrose dismisses Pacek’s suit against former Allegheny County detectives Theodore Botula and Art Sabulsky. Pacek had accused the two detectives who arrested him of violating his civil rights. Pacek decides not to appeal.

  • February 1999: Pacek sees a picture of a man believed to be a “material witness” to the case in a special history section of the Valley News Dispatch. According to Fisher, the man is one of the suspects police had already been pursuing for several years. Police won’t release his name.

  • April 19, 2000: House Bill 2490, introduced by state Rep. Howard Fargo, R-Grove City, is referred to the House Judiciary Committee. It died for lack of support. The bill would have provided compensation to Pacek for his 10 years of wrongful imprisonment.

  • April 2001: A new bill, House Bill 1442, is introduced. It has the sentiment of the same bill but is broader. It calls for damages for wrongful imprisonment not to exceed $25,000 or twice the amount of the gross wages the plaintiff earned in the year prior to the arrest, whichever is greater, for each year of wrongful imprisonment.

    This bill was also referred to the Judiciary Committee but died for lack of support. A Philadelphia legislator says he plans to build support for it and reintroduce it in 2005.

  • Nov. 24, 2004: Pacek dies of stomach cancer.


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