If you want to help solve the murder of two sisters from Chicago, you don’t have to search far for information. The brutal deaths of Barbara and Patricia Grimes have been in the spotlight for over 60 years. Through all of these decades, the case has never been solved, and the creepy mystery only continues to grow.
According to Chicago Now, it was just a few days after Christmas in 1956 when 15-year-old Barbara Grimes and her 13-year-old sister left their home around 7:30 P.M. Many reports say the pair went to dinner and to see the movie Love Me Tender, starring Elvis Presley.
By all accounts, they made it to the theater. After the show, they were supposed to meet their other sister and brother at a bus stop, but they never showed, NBC News reports. For more than three weeks, NBC says the search to find the Grimes sister was the most labor-intensive missing person cases in Cook County, Illinois history.
On January 22, 1957, both of the girls were found – they were dead, and their naked bodies were discovered off the side of a road. There was no obvious signs of blunt force trauma, gunshots, or stab wounds, reports said, though the older girl was reportedly molested. According to a medical examiner at the time, the girls died from “secondary shock due to cold temperatures.”
Ray Johnson, a former investigator for the West Chicago Police Department, who has studied the case extensively, said at first police did not take the case seriously; they thought the girls vanished on their own. He added it took police about a week to really get going on the investigation, and Elvis Presley himself even spoke out about it, which added a tremendous amount of attention to the case. He said at the time of the sisters’ disappearance, their mother reported the girls missing — she knew all along they didn’t just run away, as there wasn’t a chance they would leave behind all their new Christmas gifts, many of which were left under the tree.
Johnson added this case is still the biggest investigation with the most man-hours ever put into a case by the Chicago police.
As for the girl’s mother, according to Johnson, she received a number of letters and phone calls over this time. He said some of the calls were extremely cruel; some folks were upset that Ms. Grimes would let her young daughters venture out solo on a cold winter night.
Over the years, police said they’ve made only one arrest: a man by the name of Edward “Bennie” Bedwell. Bedwell was a local dishwasher who was interrogated for three days at a local motel. He eventually admitted to the murder, Johnson said.
Bedwell couldn’t read or write, so it would be nearly impossible for him to understand what he was confessing to, Johnson added. After a time, everyone realized Bedwell’s story didn’t add up. There were inconsistencies, including the fact that Bedwell said he was with the girls for a month before they died, Johnson said. The problem with that confession was the girls were dead within four hours of leaving home, reports say.
Over the years, investigators looked into a number of suspects, but no one has been formally charged. Johnson believes there are at least two or three people still alive who may have answers in this case.
Mrs. Grimes died in 1989, Johnson said, and is now buried near her daughters. She went to her grave never knowing who took their lives.
If you want to continue to follow all of the twists and turns in this case, you can follow the Facebook page Johnson created: Help Solve Chicago’s Grimes Sisters’ Murder.
The Cook County Cold Case Unit is also accepting leads in the Grimes case, and you can reach them directly at (708) 865-4549.
If you are in search of a missing person, make sure to enter their information into the database of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
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Main photo: The Grimes Sisters [Wikipedia (public domain)]