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Police and press inspect the crime scene after the Grimes sisters were found.

Barbara Grimes and Patricia Grimes are two girls who disappeared on December 28, 1956, in Chicago, Illinois. They were found dead on January 22, 1957. Their murder case is known as the Grimes sisters' murder case and to this day remains unsolved.[1]

Contents

Disappearance

On December 28, 1956, sisters Barbara (13) and Patricia (15) Grimes left their house and went to the Brighton Theater to see the Elvis Presley movie Love me Tender. Brighton Theater was a short distance from their house. In their pockets they had $US 2.15, but it is unknown how they arrived at the theater (whether they took the bus or walked). They were seen in the popcorn line of the theater at around 9:30 pm. The movie was over around 11 pm, and they were expected at home around 11:45 pm. At 2:15 am, the two sisters were reported missing by their mother.

Their disappearance launched one of the biggest missing-persons hunts in Chicago history. However, police were not able to determine what happened to the Grimes sisters. In a statement, Elvis Presley asked the girls to go home.[1]

Found dead

On January 22, 1957, a construction worker named Leonard Prescott found the Grimes sisters. Their naked bodies were discarded next to the German Church Road near Willow Springs. Barbara Grimes lay on her left side with her legs slightly drawn up toward her body. Patricia Grimes covered the head of her sister. She lay on her back and her head was turned sharply to the right.

The autopsy, performed by experienced pathologists, earned much criticism. They concluded that the Grimes sisters died on December 28, the day they vanished, and the cause of death was due to shock and exposure to low temperatures. The cause of death was only determined by excluding all other possibilities. However, Harry Glos, one of the chief investigators in the case, believed that the Grimes sisters were still alive when their bodies were discarded next to the German Church Road. He stated that the thin ice layer on the bodies of the girls indicated that their bodies must still have been warm when they were dumped there. Only after January 7, 1957 would there have been enough snowfall to create the ice layer. Therefore, according to this theory, the Grimes sisters must have been still alive until at least January 7.

Also, the corpses contained various bruises and marks (for example puncture wounds in the chest that may have come from an ice pick) that were never fully explained. Glos has also theorized that Barbara Grimes was sexually molested before she was killed. Although the pathologists denied this claim, the Chicago police crime lab confirmed Glos' theory.

Witnesses

  • Friends saw the Grimes sisters on December 28, 1956, at 9:30 pm in the popcorn line of the Brighton Theater. They laughed and their friends didn’t notice anything unusual. This sighting is considered reliable.
  • Numerous people said that they saw them boarding an Archer CTA bus heading east into the city after the screening. According to those people, the Grimes sisters got off the bus at Western Avenue, about half the way to their home. Why they would get off the bus at this station is unknown.
  • A security guard on the northwest side believed he was asked for directions by the Grimes girls on the morning of December 29.
  • Classmates said they saw the Grimes sisters on December 29 at Angelo's Restaurant at 3551 South Archer Avenue. The accuracy of this sighting is not known.
  • A railroad conductor reported them on a train near the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in north suburban Glenview.
  • On December 30, 1956, at 5:40 am the owner of the D&L Restaurant on West Madison, claimed to have seen the Grimes sisters, with Patricia apparently drunk or sick, accompanied by a later suspect, Edward L. "Benny" Bedwell.
  • On January 1, 1957, they have been reported aboard a CTA bus on Damen Avenue.
  • The following week a night clerk at the Unity Hotel on West 61st street refused two girls a room (because of their age) who he believed were the Grimes sisters.
  • On January 3, 1957, three employees at Kresge thought they had seen the girls listening to Elvis Presley music at the record counter.
  • On January 14, 1957, the parents of a classmate of Patricia Grimes (Sandra Tollstan) received two telephone calls around midnight. When picking up the first phone call, nobody at the other end spoke. On the second phone call, 15 minutes later, a seemingly frightened voice asked "Is that you, Sandra? Is Sandra there?" but before the parents could bring their daughter to the phone, the caller had hung up. Ann Tollstan, the mother of Sandra Tollstan and the one who answered the second phone call, was convinced that the caller's voice belonged to Patricia Grimes.

Only the sighting of the Grimes sisters in the popcorn line at 9:30 pm by their friends is undisputed. The accuracy of the other sightings is unknown or questionable.

Suspects

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Edward L. "Benny" Bedwell

A 20-year-old drifter from Tennessee who bore some resemblance to Elvis Presley. According to the owner of the D&L Restaurant where Bedwell occasionally washed dishes, he was at the restaurant with the Grimes sisters on the morning of December 30. Bedwell first confessed to the murders, but later withdrew his confession on the grounds he had been coerced by the sheriff's men. Considering the time and place, this may well have been true . Also, only the sheriff but no other investigator believed that Bedwell may have been the murderer of the Grimes sisters. (Harry Glos, another chief investigator, believed he may have had something to do with their disappearance and murder, but wasn’t sure about Bedwell's role in this case.)

Max Fleig

Max Fleig was a 17 year old suspect in this case. He voluntarily took a polygraph test and failed it. After failing the polygraph, he allegedly confessed to kidnapping the girls. However, because at that time it was illegal to perform the polygraph test on a minor, police had to let Fleig go. He was never charged with the murders because there was no evidence that he killed or kidnapped the girls other than his alleged confession and the polygraph failure. Max Fleig was sent to prison a few years later for the unrelated murder of a young woman.

Walter Kranz

Walter Kranz, a 53 years old steamfitter, had called the police on January 15. He told police he dreamed that the bodies of the girls could be found in a park at 81st and Wolf. This park was less than a mile from the location where the bodies of the girls were actually found. Because of that, Walter Kranz was one of the suspects. But after he had been taken into custody and was questioned by the police, he was released.

Silas Jayne

Silas Jayne was a stable owner and confessed to the murder of the Grimes sisters. He may have been involved in other murders within the Chicago area at that time. However, his confession fell apart and he admitted that he had lied to the police. (This "confession" is not contained in any of the cited references, nor in any additional reportage on the infamous Jayne brothers.)

References

  1. ^ a b "Elvis Urges Missing Girls To Go Home". Hammond Times (Newspaperarchive.com). 20 December 1957. http://www.newspaperarchive.com/newspapers1/na0022/2888907/15291980_clean.html. Retrieved 2008-10-06.  

Sources


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