FAREWELL TO THE GRIMES SISTERS
THE END OF INNOCENCE IN CHICAGO
There is no greater unsolved mystery in the history of the Chicago area than that of the Grimes Sisters -- who killed Barbara & Patricia and what happened to them over the weeks between the time when they vanished and their bodies were found along secluded German Church Road? And who haunts the gloomy stretch of roadway where their bodies were found?
Have you ever run across a place that just seems to be bad?
It might be a place that you really have no connection to or information about and yet it just seems to be a spot that you donít want to linger for very long. I have always been intrigued by the idea of what I think of as "haunted highways". These are stretches of roadway that perhaps cross through an area that has gained an unnerving reputation over the years or that simply manages to give the person traveling along them that always popular creeping sensation at the base of the spine. Often, we are bothered by these highways because of stories we have heard about them. Perhaps it was suggested that an unusually high number of accidents occur here or that people have seen things that they canít quite explain. Other roads are haunted by memories from the past -- death, murder and horrific events that canít quite seem to be forgotten by those who travel on the road. And even perhaps by the highway itself?
Have you ever had the misfortune to discover such a place? I have....
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit a roadway in Chicago called German Church Road. It was a place that just seemed "wrong" and thatís the best description that I can give for it. Some say this roadway is haunted and frankly, I can believe it. It is a place where the shadows hang long and low and where a chill always seems to be in the air. But could my reaction to this "haunted highway" have been caused by my knowledge of what had occurred here in the past? Perhaps, for it was along this road that the victims of one of the most horrific crimes in Chicago history were found.
It was a heartbreaking event that has become one of the regionís most puzzling unsolved crimes. It shattered the innocence of Chicago forever and according to those who have experienced it, left a chilling impression behind.
It was December 28, 1956 and Patricia Grimes, 13, and Barbara Grimes, 15, left their home at 3624 South Damen Avenue and headed for the Brighton Theater, only a mile away. The girls were both avid fans of Elvis Presley and had gone to see his film Love Me Tender for the eleventh and final time. The girls were recognized in the popcorn line at 9:30 PM and then seen on an eastbound Archer Avenue bus at 11:00 PM. After that, things are less certain but this may have been the last time they were ever seen alive. The two sisters were missing for the next twenty-five days, before their naked and frozen bodies were found along the banks of Devil's Creek in the southwest part of Cook County.
The girlís mother, Loretta Grimes, expected the girls to come home by 11:45 but was already growing uneasy when they had not arrived 15 minutes prior to that. At midnight, she sent her daughter Theresa, 17, and her son Joey, 14, to the bus stop at 35th and Hoyne to watch for them. After three buses had stopped and had failed to discharge their sisters, Theresa and Joey returned home without them. They never saw the girls again, but strangely, others claimed to.
The last reported sightings of the two girls came from classmates who spotted them at Angelo's Restaurant at 3551 South Archer Avenue, more than 24 hours after their reported disappearance. How accurate this sighting was is unknown, as a railroad conductor also reported them on a train near the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in north suburban Glenview. A security guard on the northwest side offered directions to two girls he believed were the Grimes sisters on the morning of the 29th, hours after they disappeared. On January 1, both girls were allegedly identified as passengers aboard a CTA bus on Damen Avenue. During the week that followed, they were reported in Englewood by George Pope, a night clerk at the Unity Hotel on West 61st Street, who refused them a room because of their ages. Three employees at Kresge believed they saw the girls listening to Elvis Presley songs at the record counter on January 3.
The police theorized that the girls had run away but Loretta Grimes refused to believe it. She was sure the girls were not missing voluntarily but the authorities were still not convinced. Regardless, it became the greatest missing persons hunt in Chicago police history. Even Elvis Presley, in a statement issued from Graceland, asked the girls to come home and ease their mother's worries. The plea went unanswered.
More strangeness would be reported before the bodies of the girls were found. A series of ransom letters, that were later discovered to have come from a mental patient, took Mrs. Grimes to Milwaukee on January 12. She was escorted by FBI agents and instructed to sit in a downtown Catholic church with $1,000 on the bench beside her. The letter promised that Barbara Grimes would walk in to retrieve the money and then leave to deliver it to the kidnapper. She and her sister would then be released. Needless to say, no one ever came and Mrs. Grimes was left sitting there for hours to contemplate her daughterís fate. By that time, itís likely that the bodies of the two girls were already lying along German Church Road, covered with snow.
But if thatís true though, then how can we explain the two telephone calls that were received by Wallace and Ann Tollstan on January 14? Their daughter, Sandra, was a classmate of Patricia Grimes at the St. Maurice School and they received the two calls around midnight. The first call jolted Mr. Tollstan out of his sleep but when he picked up the receiver, the person on the other end of the line did not speak. He waited a few moments and then hung up. About 15 minutes later, the phone rang again and this time, Ann Tollstan answered it. The voice on the other end of the line asked "Is that you, Sandra? Is Sandra there?" But before Mrs. Tollstan could bring her daughter to the phone, the caller had clicked off the line. Ann Tollstan was convinced that the frightened voice on the telephone had belonged to Patricia Grimes!
And that wasnít the only strange happening to mark the period when the girls were missing. On January 15, a police switchboard operator received a call from a man who refused to identify himself but who insisted that the girlís bodies would be found in a park at 81st and Wolf. He claimed that this revelation had come to him in a dream and he hung up. The call was then traced to Greenís Liquor Market on South Halstead and the caller was discovered to be Walter Kranz, a 53 year-old steamfitter. According to a Chicago Sun-Times article, he was taken into custody after the bodies were found on January 22 -- less than a mile from the park that Kranz said he dreamed of! He became one of the numerous people who were questioned by the police and then released.
Finally, the vigil for the Grimes Sisters ended on January 22, 1957 when construction worker Leonard Prescott was driving south on German Church Road near Willow Springs. He spotted what appeared to be two discarded clothing store mannequins lying next to a guardrail, a short distance from the road. A few feet away, the ground dropped off to Devil's Creek below. Unsure of what he had seen, Prescott nervously brought his wife to the spot, and then they drove to the local police station. His wife, Marie Prescott, was so upset by the sight of the bodies that she had to be carried back to their car.
Once investigators realized the "mannequins" were actually bodies, they soon discovered they were the Grimes Sisters. Barbara Grimes lay on her left side with her legs slightly drawn up toward her body. Her head was covered by the body of her sister, who had been thrown onto her back with her head turned sharply to the right. It looked as if they had been discarded there by someone so cold and heartless that he saw the girls as nothing more than refuse to be tossed away on a lonely roadside.
(Left) Police officers and reporters trample the crime scene as they look over the bodies of Barbara & Patricia, which can be seen just over the guard rail on the left.
The officials in charge, Cook County Sheriff Joseph D. Lohman and Harry Glos, an aggressive investigator for Coroner Walter E. McCarron, surmised that the bodies had been lying there for several days, perhaps as far back as January 9. This had been the date of the last heavy snowfall and the frigid temperatures that followed the storm had preserved the bodies to a state that resembled how they looked at the moment of death. As the newspapers broke the story on the morning of January 23, both the press and the investigators in the case began to draw connections between the murders of the Grimes sisters and the killings of three young boys who had been found under similar circumstances in October 1955.
One of the most shocking and terrifying events in the history of Chicago took place in that month, when the bodies of the three boys were discovered in a virtually crime-free community on the northwest side of the city. This was several years before the disappearance of the Grimes sisters and at the time of what was called the Schuessler-Peterson murders, the city would be stunned by the horror of violence against children.
The terrifying events began on a cool Sunday afternoon in the fall of 1955 when three boys from the northwest side of the city headed downtown to catch a matinee performance of a movie at a Loop Theater. The boys made the trip with their parentís consent because in those days, parents thought little of their responsible children going off on excursions by themselves. The boys had always proven dependable in the past and this time would have been no exception, if tragedy had not occurred.
With $4 between them, John and Anton Schuessler and Bobby Peterson ventured into the Chicago Loop to see a movie that Bobbyís mother had chosen for them. Around 6:00 pm that night, long after the matinee had ended, the boys were reported in the lobby of the Garland Building at 111 North Wabash. There was no explanation for what they might have been doing there, other than that Petersonís eye doctor was located in the building. It seems unlikely that he would have been visiting the optometrist on a Sunday afternoon.
Around 7:45 pm, the three entered the Monte Cristo Bowling Alley on West Montrose. The parlor was a neighborhood eating place and the proprietor later recalled to the police that he recalled the boys and that a "fifty-ish" looking man was showing an "abnormal interest" in several younger boys who were bowling. He was unable to say if the man made contact with the trio. They left the bowling alley and walked down Montrose to another bowling alley, then thumbed a ride at the intersection of Lawrence and Milwaukee Avenue. They were out of money by this time, but not quite ready to go home. It was now 9:05 in the evening and their parents were beginning to get worried. They had reason to be, for the boys were never seen alive again.
Two days later, the boyís naked and bound bodies were discovered in a shallow ditch about 100 feet east of the Des Plaines River. A salesman, who had stopped to eat his lunch at the Robinson Woodís Indian Burial Grounds nearby, spotted them and called the police. Coroner Walter McCarron stated that the cause of death was "asphyxiation by suffocation". The three boys had been dead about 36 hours when they were discovered.
Bobby Peterson had been struck repeatedly and had been strangled with a rope or a necktie. The killer had used adhesive tape to cover the eyes of all three victims. They had then been thrown from a vehicle. Their clothing was never discovered.
The city of Chicago was thrown into a panic. Police officials reported that they had never seen such a horrible crime. The fears of parents all over the city were summed up by the grief-stricken Anton Schuessler Sr. who said, "When you get to the point that children cannot go to the movies in the afternoon and get home safely, something is wrong with this country."
Police officers combed the area, conducting door-to-door searches and neighborhood interrogations. Search teams combed Robinsonís Woods, looking for clues or items of clothing. The killer (or killers) had gone to great length to get rid of any signs of fingerprints or traces of evidence. By this time, various city and suburban police departments had descended on the scene, running into each other and further hampering the search for clues. There was little or no cooperation between the separate agencies and if anything had been discovered, it would have most likely been lost in the confusion.
While investigators were coming up empty, an honor guard of Boy Scouts carried the coffins of the three boys from the St. Tarcissus Roman Catholic Church to a hearse that would take them to St. Joseph Cemetery. The church was filled to capacity with an estimated 1,200 mourners. This marked the end of innocence in Chicago. With the death of the Grimes sisters a few years later, it was apparent to all that America had changed for the worse.
The horror felt by parents in Chicagoland was only compounded by the disappearance of the Grimes sisters and the subsequent discovery of their bodies. Like the Schuesslerís and Bobby Peterson, the girls had been found naked and dumped in a secluded, wooded area. And also like the murders a few years before (still unsolved at the time), the bodies had looked to be mannequins by those who discovered them.
The bodies along German Church Road sent the various police departments into action. A short time after the discovery, more than 162 officers from Chicago, Cook County, the Forest Preserves and five south suburban police departments began combing the woods -- and tramping all over whatever evidence may have been there. Between the officers, the reporters, the medical examiners and everyone else, the investigation was already botched. Despite the claims of Lt. Joseph Morris, the head of a special police unit investigating the Schuessler-Peterson murders, who said "Weíre not going to repeat some of the mistakes that we made the last time", things were already off to a bad start.
And the investigation became even more confusing in the days to come. The bodies were removed from the scene and were taken to the Cook County Morgue, where they would be stored until they thawed out and an autopsy became possible. Before they were removed though, both police investigators and reporters commented on the condition of the corpses, noting bruises and marks that have still not been adequately explained to this day. According to a newspaper article, there were three "ugly" wounds in Patriciaís abdomen and the left side of her face had been battered, resulting in a possibly broken nose. Barbaraís face and head had also been bruised and there were punctures from an ice pick in her chest. Once the bodies were moved, investigators stayed on the scene to search for clothing and clues but neither were found.
Once the autopsies were performed the following day, all hopes that the examinations would provide new evidence or leads were quickly dashed. Despite the efforts of three experienced pathologists, they could not reach agreement on a time or cause of death. They stated that the girls had died from shock and exposure but were only able to reach this conclusion by eliminating other causes. And by also concluding that the girls had died on December 28, the night they had disappeared, they created more puzzles than they had managed to solve. If the girls had died on the night they had gone missing, then how could the sightings that took place after that date be explained? And if the bodies had been exposed to the elements since that time, then why hadnít anyone else seen them?
Barbara and Patricia were buried on January 28, one month after they disappeared, although their mystery was no closer to being solved than it had been in December.
The residents of Chicagoland were stunned and the case of the murdered girls became an obsession. The local community organized searches for clues and passed out flyers looking for information. Money was raised to assist the destitute Grimes family and eventually the funds paid off their Damen Avenue home. The Chicago Tribune invited readers to send in theories about the case and paid $50 for any they published. The clergy and the parishioners from St. Maurice offered a $1,000 reward and sent out letters to area residents, hoping that someone might have seen the girls before they vanished. Even photographs were taken of friends of the girls that duplicated the clothing they wore on December 28 in hopes that it might jog the memory of someone who saw them. On the night they saw Love Me Tender for the last time, Patricia wore blue jeans, a yellow sweater, a black jacket with white sleeve stripes, a white scarf over her head and black shoes. Her sister reportedly wore a gray tweed skirt, yellow blouse, a three-quarter length coat, a gray scarf, white bobby sox and black, ballerina shoes. The clothing though, like the girlís killer, was never found.
The killer may have eluded the authorities but it was not because no one was trying to find him. Investigators questioned an unbelievable 300,000 persons, searching for information about the girls, and 2,000 of these people were seriously interrogated, which in those days could be brutal. A number of suspects were seriously considered and among the first was the "dreamer", Walter Kranz, who called police with his mysterious tip on January 15. He was held at the Englewood police station for some time and was repeatedly interrogated and given lie detector tests about his involvement in the murders. No solid evidence was ever found against him though.
The police also named a 17-year-old named Max Fleig as a suspect but the current law did not allow juveniles to be tested with a polygraph. Police Captain Ralph Petaque persuaded the boy to take the test anyway and in the midst of it, he confessed to kidnapping the girls. Because the test was illegal and inadmissible, the police were forced to let Fleig go free. Was he the killer? No one will ever know. Regardless, Fleig was sent to prison a few years later for the brutal murder of a young woman.
In the midst of all of this, the police still had to deal with nuts and cranks, more so-called psychic visions and a number of false confessions, making their work even harder. One confession that they investigated came from a transient who was believed to have been involved in some other murders around the same time period. His confession later unraveled and he admitted that he had lied.
Eager to crack the floundering case, Cook County Sheriff Joseph Lohman then arrested a Tennessee drifter named Edward L. "Benny" Bedwell. The drifter, who sported Elvis-style sideburns and a ducktail haircut, had reportedly been seen with the Grimes sisters in a restaurant where he sometimes washed dishes in exchange for food. When he was initially questioned, Bedwell admitted that he had been in the D&L Restaurant on West Madison with two girls and an unnamed friend but he insisted that the owners of the place were mistaken about the girls being the Grimes sisters.
According to the owners, John and Minnie Duros, the group had entered the diner around 5:30 on the morning of December 30. They described the taller girl (Patricia?) as being either so drunk or so sick that she was staggering as she walked. The couples sat in a booth for awhile and listened to Elvis songs on the jukebox and then went outside. According to Minnie Duros, "The taller girl returned to the booth and put her head on the table. They wanted her to get into the car, but she didnít want to. The other girl and the two men came back later and I told them to leave the girl alone -- sheís sick. But they all left anyway and on their way out, Barbara said they were sisters."
Lohman found the story plausible, thanks to the unshakable identification of the girls by Minnie Duros, their respective heights, the fact that one of them said they were sisters and finally, Bedwellís resemblance to Elvis. Lohman believed this might have been enough to get the girls to go along with him. And then of course, there was Bedwellís confession, which related a lurid and sexually explicit tale of drunken debauchery with the two young women. He made and recanted three confessions and even re-enacted the crime for Lohman on January 27. Everyone doubted the story but Lohman. He booked Bedwell on murder charges, but the drifter's testimony was both vague and contradictory and (most likely) his confession had been beaten out of him. On January 31, he testified that he had confessed out of fear of Lohmanís men, who had struck and threatened him while he was being questioned.
Another of the chief investigators in the case, Harry Glos, believed that Bedwell might have been implicated in the murders in some way but that he was a dubious suspect. State's Attorney Benjamin Adamowski agreed and ordered the drifter released. All charges against Bedwell were dismissed on March 4 and upon leaving the courtroom, he was re-arrested on a fugitive warrant from Florida for the rape of a 13 year-old girl. The crime he was charged with in Florida closely resembled the one that took the lives of the Grimes sisters but he managed to avoid conviction for it, thanks to the passage of time while he was a fugitive. According to reports, Bedwellís accuser had been held captive for three days before escaping and notifying the police of her abduction and rape. Bedwell later spend time in prison on a weapons charge and died at some point after he was released in 1986.
The dismissal of charges against Bedwell in the Grimes case set off another round of bickering between police departments and various jurisdictions and the case became even more mired in red tape and inactivity. It got even worse when coronerís investigator Glos publicly criticized the autopsy findings concerning the time and cause of death. He shocked the public by announcing that Barbara and Patricia could not have died on the night they disappeared. He said that an ice layer around the bodies proved that they were warm when they were left along German Church Road and that only after January 7 would there have been enough snow to create the ice and to hide the bodies.
Glos also raised the issues of the puncture wounds and bruises on the bodies, which had never been explained or explored. He was sure that they girls had been violently treated prior to death and also asserted that the older sister, Barbara, had been sexually molested before she was killed. The pathologists had denied this but the Chicago Police crime lab reluctantly confirmed it. However, they were angry with Glos for releasing the information because they wanted to keep it secret so that they could use it when questioning suspects.
The coroner, Walter McCarron, promptly had Glos fired and many of the other investigators in the case accused him of being reckless and of political grandstanding. Only Sheriff Lohman, who later deputized Glos to work on the case without pay, remained on his side. He agreed that the girls had likely been beaten and tortured by a sexual predator who lured them into the kidnap car under a seemingly innocent pretense. Lohman remained convinced until his death in 1969 that the predator who had killed the girls had been Benny Bedwell.
Other theories maintain that the girls may have indeed encountered Bedwell or another "older man" and rumors circulated that the image of the two girls had been polished to cover up some very questionable behavior on their parts. It was said that they sometimes hung around a bar on Archer Avenue where men would buy them drinks. One of the men may have been Benny Bedwell. Harry Glos, who died in 1994, had released information that one of the girls had been sexually active but later reports from those who have seen the autopsy slides say there is evidence that both of them may have been. It is believed that Coroner McCarron may not have released this because of religious reasons or to spare additional grief for the family.
(Right) The death certificates of Barbara & Patricia Grimes. The cause of death is listed as ďmurderĒ although the official line reads ďsecondary shock - exposure to low temperatures - coldĒ (Courtesy Jim Graczyk)
Today, veteran detectives believe that there was much more to the story that met the eye. According to Richard Lindberg's book, Return to the Scene of the Crime, they are convinced that Barbara and Patricia were abducted by a front man for a "white slavery" ring and taken to a remote location in the woods surrounding Willow Springs. They are convinced that the girls were strangled after refusing to become prostitutes. Itís also possible that the girls may have been lured into an involvement in the prostitution ring by someone they knew (perhaps one of the older men from the Archer Avenue bar?), not realizing what would be required of them, and they were killed to keep them silent.
Others refused to even consider this though and were angered by the negative gossip about the two girls. Some remain angry about this even today, maintaining that Barbara and Patricia were nice, ordinary, happy girls and were tragically killed on a cold night because they made the mistake of accepting a ride from a stranger. They didnít hang around in bars, these old friends maintain, they were simply innocent teenage girls, just like everyone else at that time.
As for myself, Iíd like to think these old acquaintances are right. There are few stories as tragic as the demise of the Grimes sisters and perhaps it provides some cold comfort for us to believe that their deaths were simply a terrible mistake or the actions of deviant killer. It can provide us that comfort of knowing that the girls were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and that such a thing could have happened to anyone. But does believing this make us feel better -- or worse?
Years passed. As there is no statute of limitations for murder, the case officially remained open but there was little chance that it would ever be solved. The Grimes family saw their hopes for closure in the case slowly fading away. Loretta Grimes passed away in December 1989 and by all accounts was a tragic and broken woman.
For the next several years, the investigation continued and more suspects were interviewed. A $100,000 reward was posted but the trail went cold. Then, decades later, hope was raised for the Grimes case when a solution was finally discovered to the Schuessler-Peterson murders from 1955. In a bizarre turn of events, a government informant named William Wemette accused one Kenneth Hansen of the murders during a police investigation into the 1977 disappearance of candy heiress Helen Vorhees Brach.
In 1955, Hansen, then 22 years old, worked as a stable hand for Silas Jayne, a millionaire from Kane County. Jayne himself was wild and reckless and had been suspected of many violent and devious dealings during his rise to power in the horse-breeding world. He went to prison in 1973 for the murder of his half brother, George. Hansen himself was no prize either and soon, investigators were able to build a case against him. The case resulted in the deviantís arrest in August 1994.
Cook County prosecutors showed jurors how Hansen had lured the Schuessler brothers and Bobby Peterson into his car under false pretenses. They retraced the path of the killer in what author Richard Lindberg called "chilling detail". His story was that he wanted to show the boys some prize horses belonging to Silas Jayne. According to the testimony of several men that Hansen had bragged to, he had molested and then killed the Schuesslerís and Peterson one by one. When Jayne discovered his crime, the horse breeder burned the stables in order to obliterate any evidence that Hansen had left behind. Hansenís brother had then dumped the boyís bodies at Robinsonís Woods and Jayne had filed a bogus insurance claim for the lost building.
This case came to trial in 1995 and breaking a 40 year silence, many of Hansenís other victims came forward, recalling promises of jobs made to young men in return for sexual favors. He forced their silence with threats that included warnings that they might end up "like the Peterson boy". Even without evidence and eyewitnesses to corroborate the prosecutionís allegations against him, a Cook County jury convicted Kenneth Hansen of the murders in September 1995. They deliberated for less than two hours and Hansen was sentenced for 200-300 years in prison.
Bobby Peterson and the Schuessler brothers could finally rest in peace -- but the same could not be said for Barbara and Patricia Grimes. Despite the new public awareness and police interest in their deaths, the case became cold once again. Apparently, the investigatorís theories about a connection between their murders and those of the Schuessler and Peterson boys were not correct after all.
Now, more than 40 years later, the mystery of who killed the Grimes sisters remains unsolved. Those who still have an interest in the case will sometimes travel down German Church Road, in the southern suburb of Willow Springs, and wind up at a low point in this "haunted highway" where the bodies of the two girls were discovered so many years ago. The impact of tragedy is still being felt today, as is the impression of what may have been a depraved killerís most desperate moments.
Today, the tree-lined roadway is heavily shadowed and quiet. There is almost a silence in the air that a traveler only seems to notice if he knows the reason why this is a haunted place. Away from the road, those who listen closely can hear the rippling of Devilís Creek below and one has to wonder if the whispering of the water could actually speak -- what dark secrets would it have to reveal?
The bodies of the Grimes sisters were tossed without ceremony at the edge of a ravine, just over a guardrail and only a few feet from the shoulder of the road. A short distance away from this site, its entrance now blocked with a chain, was a narrow drive that once led to a house that was nestled in the trees. Mysteriously, the house was abandoned by the young family who lived there soon after the girlís bodies were discovered. Many of the belongings were left behind in the house and toys and furniture lay scattered about the yard for years. Even a 1955 Buick sat rusting in the driveway but it was eventually taken away. At some point, vandals set fire to the house and the owner had to demolish what was left. And while the owner never lived there again, people would occasionally see a tall, gaunt man roaming about the property in the spring and fall, when the trees and brush were thin. It was assumed that he had once occupied the place, but those who saw him were afraid to ask.
Until just a few years ago, the foundation of the abandoned house was still visible and landscaped hedges and a few remaining artifacts served to bear witness that a family had once lived here. Below the concrete slab of the house, a basement remained intact with a water heater, window screens and an old workbench littering the crumbling floor. Why the family abandoned the home remains almost as great a mystery as who killed Barbara and Patricia Grimes. If anyone knows, they arenít saying but like the murder case, those with an interest have their theories. Some believe the owner may have been questioned about the crime and simply felt too embarrassed to stay. It has also been suggested that the family may have seen something on the night the bodies were dumped near their house and became too frightened to remain behind.
Others claim that the house, located so close to the place where the bodies were found, became haunted. And perhaps this is not as far-fetched as you might first think...
Since the discovery of the bodies, the police have received reports from those who say they have heard a car pulling up to the location with its motor running. They also say they have heard the door open, followed by the sound of something being dumped alongside the road. The door slams shut and the car drives away. They have heard these things -- and yet there is no car in sight!
According to author Tamara Shaffer, there was a young woman who took a number of her friends on a tour of the old house and the murder site one evening. They walked up the path that branched off from the driveway and circled the ruins of the house and under the light of the moon overhead, they saw a car approaching up the gravel drive from the road. It was a dark vehicle with no lights and it sped past them and around the house, then disappeared. The woman and her friends decided to leave and as they did, they encountered the police, who had been called to chase off the "tour group". The chain that had been used to close off the driveway was still hanging in place and the police officers had seen no other car.
Another woman claimed that in addition to the sounds, she saw what appeared to be the naked bodies of two young girls lying on the edge of the roadway. When police investigated, there was no sign of the bodies.
Many researchers believe in "residual hauntings", which means that an event may cause an impression to be left behind on the atmosphere of a place. It seems possible that the traumatic final moments of the Grimes sisters may have left such an impression on this small stretch of German Church Road. It may have also been an impression caused by the anxiety and madness of the killer as he left the bodies of the young women behind.
But believe in hauntings or not, that choice is up to the reader - but should you ever travel along German Church Road, I defy you to stop along the roadway where the bodies of Barbara and Patricia were found and to say that you are not moved by the tragedy that came to an end here.
Without a doubt, I think you will agree, this is a dark and haunted place.
Return to Dead Men Tell No Tales
© Copyright 2004 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
Bielski, Ursula - Chicago Haunts (1998)
Lindberg, Richard - Return to the Scene of the Crime (1999)
Shaffer, Tamara - The Crime that Time Forgot
Taylor, Troy - Haunted Chicago (2003)