On January 22, 1957, a motorist spotted what he believed were two mannequins along German Church Road near Willow Springs, in unincorporated Cook County.
Upon further investigation, it was determined the mannequins were in fact the bodies of Barbara and Patricia Grimes.
The teenage sisters had been missing from their Southwest Side Chicago neighborhood for more than three weeks.
They had gone to see an Elvis movie and never returned home.
“There was tremendous pressure put upon the police agencies of Cook County and the City of Chicago,” Chicago historian Rich Lindberg said. “This was the kind of case police had to solve.”
Investigators quickly zeroed in on a suspect Bennie Bedwell, a drifter from Tennessee who worked as a dishwasher on the Chicago’s West Side.
Witnesses told police they had seen Bedwell with the girls on West Madison Street. He was arrested and reportedly confessed but the evidence contradicted his story and the witnesses’ accounts. Bedwell later said he falsely admitted killing the girls to stop the beatings from police.
From there, the trail went cold.
But in recent years, there has been renewed interest in helping track down leads and information, thanks, in part to a Facebook group, founded by Ray Johnson, a former police officer. Johnson, Mark Wicks and other group members believe they’ve unearthed critical information that could help shed light on what happened to the girls.
They learned through their research that four male teenagers had been questioned by police, after the girls were found.
On the night the sisters disappeared, the boys acknowledged they had been drinking in a car near 35th Street and Archer Avenue, where the girls could’ve passed on their way home from the movie. Johnson later uncovered new information that potentially strengthens the ties between the boys and the Grimes sisters.
That information was presented to the Cook County Sheriff’s police.
But it’s not clear what, if anything, investigators did with the lead.
“When you know something like this and find this information out, it needs to be shared and someone’s got to act upon it,” Wicks said.
Wicks grew up in Brighton Park and after joining Johnson’s group has done extensive research on the case.
“And that’s what troubles me – with all the people in Cook County’s Sheriff’s Department I have shared this with, they have not followed through as they’ve said they would,” Wicks said.
The Cook County Sheriff’s police has reviewed information provided by Johnson, Wicks and others. But officials told WGN they don’t have enough evidence to make an arrest.
Innocence Lost: The Grimes Sisters Murders Series
Part 1: Sisters’ killings blamed for Chicago’s loss of innocence
Part 2: Did investigators overlook a crucial lead in girls’ murders?
Part 3: Will detective’s discovery help solve Grimes murders?
Coming up Wednesday, Part 3 will tell the story of a former Chicago Police detective who believes he uncovered critical evidence that could help solve the case.