Who killed the Grimes sisters? New theory emerges - FOX 32 News Chicago

Who killed the Grimes sisters? New theory emerges

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It may be Chicago's most infamous unsolved crime. The 1956 disappearance and murders of the teenage Grimes sisters jolted the city out of its sense of security, but 57 years later, the killings remains a mystery.

Now, one retired cop believes there may be a connection between the Grimes case and another famous Chicago murder.

The Grimes sisters were killed less than 16 months after the equally-shocking murders of the Schuessler-Peterson boys, yet at the time, there was little done to explore whether the cases might be connected. Now that the Schuessler-Peterson case has been solved, some believe the man convicted of their murders is also the primary suspect in the Grimes case.

In the basement of a Cook County sheriff's building in Maywood, sit two tall file cabinets filled with the remnants of a murder case that shocked Chicago.

Chicago historian Richard Lindberg has written extensively about the Grimes sisters and the 1955 murders of the three young Schuessler-Peterson boys.

"The Grimes sisters murder case really changed the way Chicago looked at crime in the 1950s," Lindberg explains. "The sense that people were living in safe, secure post-war times was completely shattered by their murders."

On December 28, 1956, 13-year-old Patricia and 15-year-old Barbara Grimes went to see the Elvis Presley movie "Love Me Tender" at the Southwest Side Brighton Park Theater near their home. They had $2.15 in their pockets.

"They were seen in line. They were seen inside the theater by some classmates who knew them and recognized them. They exited the theater and they vanished," Lindberg says.

The girl's disappearance became a national story and even Elvis Presley himself called for the girls' safe return. But, on January 22nd, a construction worker driving along German Church Road in unincorporated Willow Springs spotted what he believed to be two mannequins behind a guard rail above Devil's Creek. It was the naked remains of the Grimes sisters.

"What seemed clear is they were tossed out of the backseat of an automobile. The bodies were not arranged. They were lying on top of each other as if they were mannequins simply discarded in the snow," he continues.

Amazingly, the Cook County coroner could not determine how the girls died and the case was further damaged by vicious competition between competing police agencies eager to solve the crime.

"So what happens is there are jurisdictional turf battles that compromise this investigation, just as it had two years earlier."

That was when the bodies of 13-year-old John Schuessler, his 11-year-old brother Anton, and their 14-year-old friend Robert Peterson were discovered in a ditch in a Northwest Side forest preserve. They had taken a train downtown to see a movie.

In 1995, Kenneth Hansen, a former horseman, was convicted of killing the boys. Prosecutors say Hansen picked them up while they were hitchhiking home, then sexually molested and killed the boys at the Northwest Side stables where he worked. Hansen died in prison in 2007.

Art Bilek of the Chicago Crime Commission was involved in both cases as a cop and head of the Cook County Sheriff's Police. Bilek believes there are multiple connections that point to Hansen being responsible for both infamous murders.

The guy that did the Schuessler-Peterson case was probably the guy that did the Grimes case one year later," Bilek says. "We have two groups of teenagers, very young teens, all alone at night, on public streets, with a plan to do something. And in both cases they disappear. Nobody ever sees them struggle, nobody sees them abducted or pushed into cars. They just (snap) disappear."

Bilek says there are other similarities. Both sets of victims appeared to have been dumped, naked, near bodies of water in unincorporated areas and in rural settings in the woods. And, both were found just a couple miles from stables connected to Kenneth Hansen.

"Kenneth Hansen was operating in the south suburbs," Lindberg adds. "He had opened his first stable in 1955 called the Broken H, and that was in Willow Springs, not far away from where the girls were found."

"None of that proves that Ken Hansen was the man who committed the murders. But if I had to stake my reputation on it, he'd be my best guess," Bilek believes.

Among the thousands of documents in the Grimes sisters file was a letter from their mother, Loretta, to a Cook County Sheriff's Detective: "The answer to this terrible thing must be found, even if it takes months or years. Please, please never forget. Please never give up."

Loretta Grimes died in 1989.

Cook County's current sheriff says they're still honoring that request.

"As long as we have viable tools, viable leads, we need to run those out and we'll do that," Sheriff Tom Dart tells FOX 32. "And when you see the family members, you have it drilled into your head that's why we do this stuff."

Sheriff's investigators worked on the Grimes sisters' case as recently as six months ago.

Kenneth Hansen went to his grave denying that he killed the Schuessler-Peterson boys. It does not appear he was ever formally questioned about the Grimes murders.

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