THE DARK SIDE OF CHICAGO


ATTENTION!

   The following page has been used by permission from the author, Jim Graczyk. These are just two of a couple stories that appear in the book, A Field Guide To Illinois Hauntings. All pictures and text are protected under copyright law. Do not use any of the pictures or text without my sole permission, or permission from Ghost Research Society Press.Thank you. 
2002-2014 Jim Graczyk

Unsolved Murders of 1972

     The summer of 1972 had a mysterious rash of murders that were happening to females throughout the Chicagoland area and surrounding suburbs. As of September 24th, the count was now at four teenage girls, two women, and one 18-month-old baby girl. The Police were baffled, could this be the work of a serial killer?
    The first body was found in June. Kathleen Morecraft, 18, of Elgin, was last seen riding her bike. Her body was found slain in a nearby forest preserve near Streamwood. She apparently was on her way to visit a friend, when she was apparently attacked and then dumped into the forest preserve.
    A month later, Julie Hanson, 15, of Naperville, was found stabbed to death in a cornfield south of her home. She also was last seen riding her bike near her house.
    Labor Day weekend, Judith Bettekey, 24, of Stoke-on-Trent, England, was enjoying her visit to the city and decided to take a stroll through Grant Park. She was dragged into the bushes by a man, and beaten to death. This was near the 11th Street Bridge that crossed over the Illinois Central Railroad tracks.
    September 11th, the bodies of Mrs. Barbara Flanagan, 27, Mount Prospect, and her 18-month-old daughter Renee, were found dead in a church parking lot. She apparently went to meet a man who wanted to employ her as a baby sitter. Mrs. Flanagan apparently died of a head trauma after her attacker beat her head against the pavement. Her daughter died of an apparent sexual attack.
    Two days later, September 13th, Sally Kandel, 14, of Carol Stream, was found bludgeoned to death in a nearby cornfield. She was last seen going out for a bike ride.
    The following nine days seemed rather quiet for police, but on September 23rd, Deborah Kozlarek, 17, and Carolyn Vandermolen, 13, both from Chicago, were found slain in Washington Park. This murder seemed to baffle police; fifteen years earlier they had a similar case of the Grimes sisters. The Grimes sisters up until this date still have not been solved, so police wanted to take all the steps necessary to try and solve this one.
    Both of these bodies were discovered in the park, on Saturday, by a jogger at about 7:30am. According to police, each of them had apparently been shot with a .32 caliber bullet.
    The girls were last seen the previous night about 8pm, near their homes. How the girls got to the park remained a mystery, so the police backtracked and tried to piece together the final moments.
    Three separate teams of detectives canvassed the neighborhood looking for clues and talking with neighbors. Investigators interviewed acquaintances, close friends, and talked with shop owners. The investigators theorized that the pair probably hitchhiked a ride from their killer or met him in the neighborhood. Neighbors claim they were known for hitching rides to get around town.
    Deborah, who was working as a waitress at the Motor World Lounge, 5300 S. Pulaski, had worked that Friday evening until 5pm. Her scheduled day off was Saturday.
    Carolyn was seen buying cigarettes early that evening at the Open Pantry Food Mart near her house. She was in the 8th grade at St. Augustine on 50th and Laflin Street.
    Mrs. Vandermolen had asked two policemen friends on Saturday to help search for the girls over the weekend since they did not come home.
    On Monday afternoon she went to the police station where she officially reported them missing. After listening to her story, the police asked her to accompany them to the morgue. She then identified her daughter and tentatively that of Deborah until her father confirmed the identification.
    Mrs. Vandermolen told police that Carolyn had asked her father if she could spend that night at Debbi's. Though her father refused, she left anyway.
     Mr. Kozlarek told police he had last spoke with his daughter about 7pm when she told him that she was going to run and do some laundry. She told him she would be home soon, but had never returned.
    Both girls had typical problems that most teenagers always faced. The not getting along with parents and problems at school. Debbi dropped out after she was stabbed in the leg while attending Gage Park High School. She feared the racial tension building and decided to work instead. Carolyn had run away once for a couple of days. She often got into arguments with her mom about staying out late.
    Detectives continued to check on leads and had a few clues to follow up on. They were hopeful to have a breakthrough soon.
    Upon the coroner's report, they discovered both girls ate a full meal and were possibly shot around 1-2am. So detectives then had to figure out where and with who was that last meal. If they could find out that information they would be taking a giant step on solving this crime.
    After reconstructing the possible times, they were able to narrow it down. At around 9:30pm they were both seen about a block from their homes. Shortly around 10pm, Deborah was seen in the Down Beat Tap Tavern by her brother-in-law purchasing something. A neighbor had reported seeing them around 11pm, near 51st and Elizabeth, this would be the last known time of them being alive. Midnight would have been the time they ate their last meal, but detectives did not know where.
    Just an hour or two into Saturday morning, both were shot in the back of the neck. Both of the girls were found facing down in the park, their clothes were not disarranged and both had not been sexually molested. They did however have no identification or money on them, so robbery could not be ruled out.
    Police did confirm there was a large pool of blood at the scene, and that one of the slugs did go through one of the victim's head. This bullet was not recovered so there was a speculation that the girls could have been shot in an auto and then dumped into the park.
    Police did continue to investigate where the two girls ate but nothing had surfaced. They did however narrow the time frame down to three hours from the last time the both were seen alive and the moment they were fatally shot.
    Eventually all the people the girls talked with, and the places they were last seen, all had been exhausted. Yet nobody could provide any more help. This case faded with time, just like many others. Nobody has ever been formally charged with this or any of the above mentioned murders.
    Some choose to forget all these horrible events, then others like myself, strive to get an answer. What happened that summer night could happen again. As long as someone holds an interest in those unsolved cases, they would not be forgotten. Forgetting the people who lost their lives, will be forgetting to find those who committed these murders. There is no statute of limitations with murder involved, so let's try and serve justice. (Both of these girls are buried in Resurrection Cemetery. Deborah Kozlarek is buried in Section MM, Lot 10, Block 13, Grave 10. Carolyn Vandermolen is in Section 35; Lot 220.Please respect these graves.)

 


 

 

Grimes Sisters

    The 1950's were a time that the economy was making a change and the post war babies were looking toward a better future. The Chicago area was dealt a devastating blow in 1955 with the Schuessler- Peterson boys' murders. Still with those crimes being unsolved the year was 1956.
    The holiday season was coming to end, the date December 28, 1956. Patricia Grimes, 13, who was a seventh grader at St Maurice School. Her sister Barbara Grimes, 15, attended Kelly High School. Both girls out for the holiday break decided to head out to the Brighton Theater to see Elvis Presley's Love Me Tender. The girls left their mother's home at 3634 S. Damen with only $2.15, just enough money to see the show and take care of any other expenses they might incur.
    How they got to the theater, which was a short distance away is not known, but possibly walking or taking the bus. Friends do report they saw them in line waiting for popcorn around 9:30pm. There was not anything wrong at that point since both were observed laughing and playing around like normal kids. What happened after the movie let out about 11pm is uncertain.
    Numerous people claimed to have seen them board an Archer CTA bus heading east into the City. The same people claim to have seen them get off the bus at Western Avenue, this is about a mile and a half from the theater, and possibly a half way point between their house and the theater. Why they would get off the bus a mile from their house is still a mystery.
    The girl's mother started to worry since the girls always were in around midnight. The time now was about 2:15am when she decided to phone the police to report the girls have not come home from the theater.
    The police questioned numerous eyewitnesses and chased whatever leads they had to follow. The days turned into weeks now, and flyers were circulated in hopes of bringing this to a happy end. Many hoped the girls just ran away, though there was no apparent reason, and they would see that they were missed and would come home.
    There was a report that a train conductor saw them up north by Great Lakes Naval Training Center. A possible theory was that they were chasing two Sailors they met about a month earlier. Their mother heard these rumors and was outraged by these allegations. The police search was intensified and suspects were brought in. This was going to be possibly the greatest missing-persons hunt in Chicago Police history.
    Elvis Presley himself made a public statement asking that the sisters return home and relieve their mother's worries. This should have gotten the attention of the girls since they were big Elvis Presley fans. Still, there was no contact from the girls.
    The police were said to have questioned about 300,000 people, and a good number were seriously interrogated. Max Fleig a 17 year-old boy became their prime suspect. The police talked the boy into taking a polygraph test in which he failed. Back then that was considered illegal and there was no other evidence to prove he did it, so the police had to let him go free. Could this have been the killer? We will never know.
    Another two suspects also gave confessions, one being from Silas Jayne, and the other from Benny Bedwell. Silas Jayne was a stable owner  who was possibly involved in some other murders within the area. Eventually his confession fell apart and he later admitted he had lied to the police. Benny Bedwell's story, on the other hand, seemed to make sense and was creditable as far as the police thought.
    The police needed to crack the case, so they arrested Benny Bedwell who worked at one of those all-night restaurants. Benny told the police he had picked up some underage girls one night in the restaurant. Many people doubted the connection with Benny and the Grimes but the police went ahead and charged him with murder. These might have been underage girls, but were they the Grimes girls?
    Benny's confession also had taken the authorities to the scene of the crime, but later Benny told the courts he was shown the spot and coerced into making a confession. Whatever had happened there at this point is also a mystery, but he was released from jail and simply disappeared himself. He was never found and his story can still not be proven.
    Another attempt to figure out what had happened was to find out how they had died. The coroner's office listed it as a murder, but the exact cause of how could not be proven. Reports show that the girls had been sexually assaulted, but the information was withheld from the media so that the family could get on with their mourning. The coroner after the autopsy could not find a reason of death.
    Now I myself did some research in books, and found that the girl's bodies did show some signs of murder. Patricia's abdomen had three ugly wounds, and Barbara's head showed signs of possibly being beaten by some sort of a club. Why are there some conflicting stories in this case?
    As to what had happened to the girls still remains a mystery. There are many theories, from they were picked up on some prearrangement and eventually kidnapped. A few believe they ate dinner in the late evening and died shortly after midnight on December 28,1956. Then why were the bodies found a month later? There are those that are strongly convinced that they were indeed kidnapped, and were going to be forced into "white slavery" as prostitutes. Since they had refused, they were then murdered.
    The case over many years has gotten calls about possible leads, but nothing has since been found. There was a call on the day the bodies were found, saying that they could be found near the racetrack in Tiedtville. The bodies actually were found a very short distance from that location.
    Throughout the years there are still many people who are trying to solve this crime. Journalists, police officers, countless detectives, and just your everyday people are searching for that one clue that was possibly missed on the cold January day in 1957. Maybe someday, after over forty-four years since those bodies were found we will get to bring this case to a close. Until then, we as a society have learned to remind our children to never talk to strangers and always be within earshot in case our children yell for some kind of help.
    The haunting related to this case involves German Church Road(83rd Street) just east of County Line Road, and the section of guardrail on the northside. This is where the bodies were dumped, alongside what is known as Devils Creek. There have been numerous reports of a car driving up, what seems to be the sound of something being tossed on the side of the road and the car suddenly driving away and vanishing. Other reports people have claimed to see what appears to be two bodies lying on the side of the road near the guardrail. Now the sisters are buried together in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Worth Illinois. They are buried alongside each other in section 37, 21-8. Please respect this grave. No apparent haunting at the gravesite has been reported to this date.

** If you have an interest in the Grimes Murders, I highly recommend reading the new book: Murder Gone Cold, by Tamara Shaffer.**

 


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 2002-2014 Jim Graczyk. All rights reserved.
Contact Author: Jim Graczyk.