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Grimes Crimes

The Grim Story of Barbara and Patricia Grimes' Murder

Barbara Grime (left) and Patricia Grime (right)

The year is 1956—The American supreme court has ruled segregation on buses as unlawful, the first atomic reactor is constructed, Around the World in 80 Days is released, and two children face their last year of life. 

Barbara and Patricia Grimes were 15 and 13 when they left their house to go to the movies by themselves. The two sisters were some of the biggest fans of star Elvis Presley. In fact, they had seen the new film, Love Me Tender, starring Elvis 14 times despite the movie only being released for a month. The siblings had set out to watch the movie for their 15th time at a Brighton Park theater. 

The girls were instructed by their mother, Loretta, to be home before 11:45. However, Loretta had felt a bit uneasy that night and sent her other daughter and her son to meet Barbara and Patricia at the bus stop. Although her children waited for their sisters to return, they never made it to the bus stop. 

Immediately, their mother reported them missing to the Chicago Police. While the police considered what she had to say, they were highly skeptical. Police tried and failed at convincing Loretta that her daughters had simply run away with secret boyfriends. When Barbara and Patricia did not come home the next day, their theory changed. Once more the police tried reasoning with Loretta, claiming the girls had run away. Yet, that didn't seem like them, their mother reported. On a more logical note, they had not packed any bags or purses and had only asked for enough money to buy two movie tickets. 

Elvis Presley delivered a message to the girls in hopes they would hear him and return home; "If you are good Presley fans, you'll go home and ease your mother's worries," he announced.

For the next month police operated as if the children were still alive. To this day the search is one of the largest to be conducted in Illinois history. The search was extremely hard to conduct though due to the cold December/January weather. Then, a man named Walter Kranz called the police station. He informed them that the girls were dead and gave them an address on where to find the bodies. He stated the information came to him in a dream. The location was clear of evidence and Kranz was released as a former suspect. 

In the middle of January 1957, a truck driver noticed two figures in the melting snow off to the side of the road. Initially, he reported thinking they were mannequins. After driving to his home, picking up his wife and taking her to the site, they concluded the bodies were those of Barbara and Patricia Grimes.

Search for Barbara and Patricia Grimes, 1956

In 1956 a double homicide was huge news. Especially with the victims being such young children, people were shocked at the news that the children were found dead. In 2018, people typically aren't as concerned with the crime around them until the city it was committed in is a bit too close to home for comfort. The gruesome crime rate is also a lot higher now than in the 1950s.

The murders of Barbara and Patricia Grimes being confirmed was Loretta's worst fear come true. However, the autopsy of the sisters did not reveal any evidence that the girls had been murdered at all. They were both healthy, sober, and did not have any physical marks on them. Barbara Grimes' report did show signs of sexual relations, although it was undetermined if they were consensual or not. The ending rule was of exposure to the elements. In other words, the killer had murdered them without a single trace left behind. Therefore it was claimed they froze to death. 

Media went insane over this case. People who were hardly involved in the case were all over the newspaper. As previously mentioned, cases like this were rare back then. Especially with the relevance to the king of rock n roll himself, the coverage of this case made it one of the biggest in Chicago. Unfortunately, this means the press was also disruptive at the funeral service for the children. 

The following months consisted of many fake confession phone calls to Mrs. Grimes. She also received many letters claiming they knew how the girls had died or details about their whereabouts before they were attacked. The only consistent detail the police could collect was that Barbara and Patricia got in a car with a few men after the movies. While most of the calls were pointless and interrupted Mrs. Grimes' grieving period, there was a single phone call that stood out. 

The man on the phone insisted he was the murderer, and even went so far as to boast about killing her daughters. He told Mrs. Grimes about details of the crime that had yet to be released to the public. Police had no way of tracking this man down, and at the time they could not even identify the caller. 

Roughly a year after the Grimes sisters were killed, a 15-year-old girl named Leigh Scott was also murdered. The same caller contacted the parents, and with his distinct voice, bragged about killing Leigh Scott as well. 

Shortly after, another murder similar to the Grimes case occurred. Two brothers went out to see a movie and did not return, however, the boys were beaten. This was a key detail the Grimes case lacked, so any correlation was dropped. 

A couple years later, a retired officer, Ray Johnson came forward and reported she knew a girl that was with the sisters the night they were abducted. She said the girl had escaped just before the sisters were murdered. Johnson stated her friend had yet to come forward for fear of retribution of her abductors. A major detail was that the friend shared was that the kidnapper had a distinct and strange voice. This "friend" has yet to come forward publicly, so these details were dropped as unimportant and invalid. 

Over the years many people continued to confess to the infamous murder, though none of the suspects were ever convicted due to a lack of evidence. Loretta Grimes has dedicated the rest of her life to finding the person(s) responsible for the murder of her daughters. This year marks 62 years since the Grimes children died. Anyone with information regarding the case is still responsible for reporting it to the Chicago Police, although almost everyone has deemed the case a lost cause.