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KARE 11 Investigates: 1 tragedy, 2 victims - the man who died, and the man who killed him

Too mentally ill to stand trial for assault and carjacking, Christopher Rice was sent home without needed care. Now he’s charged with murdering his neighbor.

Brandon Stahl (KARE11), A.J. Lagoe, Steve Eckert

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Published: 5:17 PM CDT May 4, 2022
Updated: 6:57 PM CDT May 5, 2022

Before their paths crossed on June 12, 2021, Paul Pfeifer struggled with mental illness for years. 

So, too, did his neighbor, Christopher Rice.

But there was a key difference between the two men. Pfeifer was able to get the help and treatment he needed, while Rice did not.

That day, as Pfeifer walked down the street from his Brooklyn Park townhome to get his mail Rice was in an apparent psychotic state, sitting behind the wheel of a black SUV.

Paul’s husband, Joseph Pfeifer St. James, stood near the open screen door of his townhome when he heard the sounds that he now hears over and over, echoes that never quit: Screeching tires, the booms of someone being run down.

Fearing it was Paul, Pfeifer St. James ran out screaming his name at the top of his lungs, only to see him lying on the ground. Joseph called 911 and held his husband in his arms, telling Paul he loved him as he watched him die.

“I wanted his spirit to see me loving him,” Pfeifer St. James said.

As horrible as that sounds to someone reading this, “It was a thousand times that,” he said.

Credit: KARE 11
Paul Pfeifer

Despite that persistent pain, Joseph believes there are two victims from that day. Not only his husband - but also the man who killed him.

“He was not given proper care,” Pfeifer St. James said. “(Paul) deserved to have a long life and he didn’t because we don’t take care of our mentally ill.”

Joseph wants that to change.