|Posted on June 10, 2019 at 7:15 AM|
On December 28th 1956, 15 year old Barbara Grimes and her 12 year old sister, Patricia made their way to the local movie theatre to watch Elvis’ film, “Love Me Tender”. They were both huge Elvis fans and seen the film numerous times. They are 2 of 7 children of Joseph and Loretta Grimes. Little did they know that they were about to be as known one of the biggest missing persons investigations in Chicago history.
They left the house around 7:30pm and were going to be home around midnight. A classmate mentioned that she and her sister sat behind the girls in the theatre. Around 9:30pm as the classmate was leaving during the intermission, they saw the sisters in line for popcorn. They seemed to be in good spirits.
When they didn’t arrive home after the second showing. Loretta Grimes sent her 17 year old daughter, Theresa and 14 year old son, Joey to wait for them at the bus stop which was located close to their house. After several buses drove past without either girl getting off. Theresa and Joey went home without them. When Loretta noticed that the sisters weren’t with them, she called around to friends to see if they were there. At about 2:15am, she filed at missing person report.
At that time, police assumed that they were run aways and if they haven’t heard from them in a week then they would take the report more seriously. In the meantime, hundreds gathered to help in the search for the girls. It was one of the most intensive missing persons investigations in Cook County. It remains one of Chicago’s most infamous cold cases. 15.000 flyers were handed out, the church had offered a $1000 reward and more then 30,000 people were interrogated.
On January 22, 1957, Leonard Prescott saw what he thought was mannequins on the side of the road. When he took his wife to where he saw them, she fainted upon seeing them. When they discovered that the mannequins were two frozen nude bodies of the Grimes girls. Leonard and his wife called the Willow Springs police department.
The autopsy didn’t fit murder. Due to the snow, the bodies were preserved. There was no signs of blunt force trauma, no stab wounds, no bullet wounds, no signs of strangulation. Exposure to the elements was cause of death. There was also no signs of drugs or alcohol in their systems. They wouldn’t able to pass out in the snow from being drunk and freeze to death. The killer must have been smart enough to make the cause of death undetectable
The case was highly publicized. It was in every newspaper and the media portrayed the girls as delinquents. There was different theories on what happened to the girls before they were found. One theory was that they went to Nashville to see Elvis in concert or that they left home on their own accord.
Numerous people have said they saw the girls alive between the time they disappeared and when they were found, but the autopsy stated that they were murdered within hours of their disappearance. Several teenagers informed investigators that they saw the sisters conversing with a young man who had the physical appearance similar to Elvis. They got into his car which was described as being a mercury model.
Loretta Grimes received multiple phone calls and letters claiming that people had information about the girls and their whereabouts or even about the murders. She received letters claiming to be the girls themselves. A man called her claiming that he was the one that killed her daughters. He knew details that nobody else knew about the crime. He then later called her again and bragged about killing 15 year old Bonnie Leigh Scott.
There was 21 year old man who bare a strong resemblance to Elvis named Edward “Bennie” Bedwell who was arrested and interrogated for 3 days because the owners of the restaurant he worked at had seen him with 2 girls who looked like the Grimes sisters. He insisted that they were mistaken about the ID of the girls. On Jan 27, 1957, he signed a 14 page confession stating that he and a friend were with the girls on the day they disappeared until Jan 7, 1957. They were drinking in various saloons on skid row and they had some food. He then “stated” that he beat them and thrown their bodies into a snow filled ditch after they refused his sexual advances, but the autopsy reports said that the girls had no alcohol or food in their system and there was no signs of a beating. Due to being semi literate, there was no way he could of understood what he was signing.
On Feb 6, 1957, Bedwell was freed on a $20,000 bond. The same year he was acquitted, he would be tried and acquitted of the 1956 rape of a 13 year old in Florida. He died in November of 1972.
Loretta Grimes never gave up. She never stopped looking for who did such a thing to her daughters. We may never know who did it, but its a good thing to start bringing light back into the case and bring peace to the family and to the girls who left us to soon.