Murder of the Grimes sisters

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search

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]



On December 28, 1956, sisters Barbara (age 15) and Patricia (age 13) 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 $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]

Discovery of bodies

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.[citation needed]

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.


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.


Edward L. "Benny" Bedwell

Edward L. "Benny" Bedwel was 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 that he had been coerced by the sheriff's men. Considering the time, 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-year-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 who, as the Helen Brach investigation was later to reveal, had been involved in a similar multiple murder of children in 50's Chicago. He is therefore considered a suspect in the case of the Grimes sisters.


  1. ^ a b "Elvis Urges Missing Girls To Go Home". Hammond Times ( 20 December 1957. Retrieved 2008-10-06.