59th Anniversary of the Murder of Bonnie Leigh Scott of Addison could lead to closure in the 1956 Grimes Sisters Murder.

59th Anniversary of the Murder of Bonnie Leigh Scott of Addison could lead to closure in the 1956 Grimes Sisters Murder.
15 year-old Bonnie Leigh Scott was murdered in 1958

On September 22, 1958, a fifteen-year-old sophomore girl from York High School did not return home.  She lived at 112 Normandy Drive in Addison with her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. Schwolow as well as her grandmother, Mrs. Doris Hitchens, who was her guardian.

Bonnie had troubles at school and had run away from home before but her grandmother immediately contacted the Addison Police Department.

Police immediately started to interview her friends including her boyfriend, Charles LeRoy Melquist.  Melquist told investigators that he met Scott at a carnival in the summer of 1957 when he was 20 and Bonnie was only 14.  He stated that he thought she was much older than that and he didn’t find out her real age until they went to visit Bonnie’s mother at the Elgin State Mental Hospital.  It was then that Melquist stated that he became more of a “big brother figure” to Bonnie and less of a boyfriend.

He stated that the night of September 22nd he received a phone call from Bonnie at about 8:15 p.m.   She said that she was at the 4D Restaurant at 12 E. Lake Street and that her boyfriend was making unwanted sexual advances toward her.  Melquist said that she would routinely call him when she was having personal problems.  He thought that she was a little “mixed up” but a good girl.

Melquist then said that he received a phone call later that night from an unknown male who identified himself as Bonnie’s boyfriend and that he was throwing her out of his car at Route 66 (now Joliet Road) and LaGrange Road in what is now Countryside, IL.

He said that he drove to the area but did not see Bonnie anywhere.

The police thought his story was a little fishy but didn’t really have anything to refute his story.  That was until they talked to four boys and a waitress at the 4D restaurant.  The waitress stated that the four boys and Bonnie were getting along just fine and that they even danced out by the boys’ car in the parking lot until around 8:30 p.m  It was then that Bonnie refused a ride and the boys left her at the restaurant parking lot.  There were no other boys with her, cell phones did not exist, and no phone calls were made from the restaurant according to the waitress.   This would start to put holes in Melquist’s story.

Charles Melquist, in court as his verdict is read on May 2nd, 1959. He was sentenced to 99 years for killing Bonnie Leigh Scott.

Charles Melquist, in court as his verdict is read on May 2nd, 1959. He was sentenced to 99 years for killing Bonnie Leigh Scott.

For the next couple weeks, Melquist drove Bonnie’s grandmother around searching for her around town and in the area of Route 66 and LaGrange Road.

On Saturday, November 15, a group of boy scouts from Cicero, IL were on a nature walk in the Forest Preserve on the southwest corner of 95th and LaGrange Road and were led by Edward Zatas.  What they found was horrible.  They discovered a badly decomposed decapitated body of a female about 250 feet south of 95th St. and about 15 feet off of the roadway.

The newspaper reported only that a female body was found and that the police thought it might be the body of a newspaperwoman named Mollie Zelko who had disappeared about 13 months prior.

Strangely, Ms. Loretta Grimes, mother of murdered sisters Barbara and Patricia Grimes, received a telephone call the same day the article came out.  This was before the police even knew it was the body of Bonnie Leigh Scott.  Ms. Grimes stated that she recognized the voice of the caller.  It was the same voice that had called her shortly after her girls were discovered murdered in January of 1957.  In 1957 the caller stated something to Ms. Grimes about one of her girls that was never made public.  The caller also stated that he was the one who undressed the girls.  He then laughed and hung up the phone.  She stated in 1957 that she would never forget that voice.   Now over 18 months later another female body is discovered and Loretta Grimes received a phone call from, according to Loretta Grimes, unmistakenly the same person.  In this phone call, he stated that he “got away with another one”.  He stated that the police were not going to be able to pin this one on Bennie Bedwell or Barry Cook (two prior suspects in the Grimes murders)  He then laughed exactly as he did in 1957 and hung up the phone.

Loretta Grimes talks about the voice of her girls' killer.

Loretta Grimes talks about the voice of her girls’ killer.

Bonnie’s grandmother found out about the female body and called the Addison Police Department.  She spoke with Chief Nels Anderson and Sgt. William Deveaney.  She was wondering if the girl could be Bonnie.  She also gave them the name of Bonnie’s dentist, Dr. P.D. Grimes, from Elmhurst where they could receive dental records to help with the identification.  Police found the head about 20 yards from the main body.

Immediately, Sgt. Deveaney and his partner, William Craig, started talking to all of Bonnie’s friends again and they both remembered Charles Melquist wanting to be extremely helpful and the location where the body was found was not too far from where Melquist stated Bonnie was thrown out of her boyfriend’s car.

They found Melquist at his home, 655 Yale Street in Villa Park, at about 11:30 p.m. on November 16th and asked him to come to the police station to answer some questions about Bonnie.  They interviewed him until about 3:15 a.m. and Chief Anderson himself drove Melquist back home.  Chief Anderson and Melquist spoke briefly in the driveway of Melquist’s home as he was dropped off.  Melquist mentioned that he was planning on applying to be a DuPage County Sheriff’s Deputy on November 25th and stated that he hoped that being questioned in Bonnie’s disappearance would not hinder his chances of becoming a deputy.  Chief Anderson asked Melquist to return to the department at 10:00 a.m. the next morning to continue with the questions and Melquist agreed.

The next morning Melquist showed up at the Addison Police Department as planned along with Elmer Melquist, his father.  Melquist requested that he be given a polygraph or lie detector test and a polygrapher from the Cook County Sheriff’s Police, George Haney, administered the test.  The results came back that Melquist was being deceptive.

They asked Melquist if he would be willing to go downtown to John Reid’s office for a more complete and reliable test and he agreed.  Before the end of that polygraph, Melquist was going into great detail about how he murdered and disposed of the body of Bonnie Leigh Scott.   He was then transported to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office where he gave a more complete and detailed confession.   After the State’s Attorney’s Office, Melquist was transported by Cook County Sheriff’s Police to the Bedford Park Police Station and after that was transported to the Villa Park Police Station where he was served with an arrest warrant for the murder of Bonnie Leigh Scott.   He was transported to the DuPage County Jail where his attorney, Robert McDonnell, and his father were attempting to get a writ of habeas corpus but charges had already been filed.

In his confession, Melquist stated that he picked up Bonnie at her house in Addison at around 8:00 p.m. on September 22nd and while sitting in his vehicle they started, “playing around”.  As part of that play he had taken a satin pillow and held it against her face.  He said that he must have held it on her face too long because he noticed that she wasn’t breathing.  At that point, he stripped off her clothes and stuffed them under his front passenger seat.  He then drove the body to 95th and LaGrange Road where he rolled her body over the guardrail like a “sack” and then drug the body by the feet about 15 feet into a thicket and left.

He said that for days he couldn’t believe he killed her and thought he might have dreamed the whole thing.  He said that he returned to the body on Friday, September 26th and found the body.  He then stated that he returned about a month later and took a large hunting knife with him.  He said that he had the “urge to cut” and cut off Bonnie’s head.  He through the head about 20 yards from the body and started slashing the torso.  He said that he returned to the body a third time but was scared away by someone walking nearby.  It was then that he said he threw the knife on the east side of LaGrange Road and drove to Irving Park Road and Elmhurst Road where there was a bonfire.  Only then did he dispose of Bonnie’s clothes in the fire that had been under his front passenger seat for over a month.

Melquist was eventually convicted of the murder and sentenced to 99 years but only served roughly eight of those years.  He eventually married, had two girls of his own and then divorced his wife.

What struck me about Bonnie’s case was the eerie similarities and strange “coincidences” with the still unsolved murders of Barbara and Patricia Grimes. 

Barbara (left) and sister Patricia Grimes disappeared on December 28, 1956

Barbara (left) and sister Patricia Grimes disappeared on December 28, 1956

Here is a short list of some of the reasons that this writer believes that Charles Melquist is a likely suspect in the murder of the Grimes girls.

  1. The phone call to Loretta Grimes both before and after the murder of Bonnie Leigh Scott.
  2. Detective Sheldon Teller was one of the lead investigators in the Grimes Case while he was also selling narcotics for mob boss Sam Giancana. Sheldon Teller was using an informant in his “narcotics” cases who was a 19-year-old former Army veteran named “Chuck” (Melquist was an Army veteran where he learned a technique for rendering women unconscious).  Sheldon Teller was one of the first people through the door of Melquist’s home during the execution of the search warrant and retrieved Melquist’s telephone book which contained the names of at least two neighbors of the Grimes girls.  Melquist, whose family did not have much money,  was represented by Sam Giancana’s attorney, Robert McDonnell who later married Giancana’s daughter, Antoinette.
  3. A three-pronged garden fork was found in the trunk of Melquist’s car. Patricia Grimes had shallow wounds (3 evenly spaced puncture wounds) on her chest that were unexplained.  Keep in mind that if Melquist would have used this fork on the Grimes girls their bodies would have been frozen in which case the fork would not have been able to penetrate as far leaving shallow wounds.
  4. Melquist was identified by a neighbor of the Grimes girls as having been in the Grimes house the day the girls went to the movies.
  5. A government psychiatrist stated that Melquist had the exact personality of someone who would have committed the Grimes murders.
  6. Melquist’s method of rendering his victims unconscious by using a military hold to cut off blood flow to the brain. He used this technique on many of his prior girlfriends who did not die.  They were left with red blotches on their faces from Petechiae (small capillary bursting)  the Grimes girls had this type of bruising on their faces that was initially thought to be from a beating but the autopsy ruled out a physical beating but could not rule out suffocation as a possible cause of death.  Since the Grimes girls had no trace of physical trauma and toxicology results were negative their official cause of death was shock from exposure to cold temperatures.
  7. The location where the Grimes girls were found (German Church Road just east of County Farm Road) was a very short distance where Bonnie Leigh Scott’s body was found.

So was Charles LeRoy Melquist, convicted murderer of Bonnie Leigh Scott, also responsible for the Grimes sisters murders?  It is quite possible.  Melquist was never questioned with regard to the Grimes Case.  His attorney would not allow it.   Melquist was a suspect at the time but was largely forgotten about after being sentenced to 99 years.

It is clear that Melquist probably did not act alone in the Grimes Case.  Based on information provided over the years by neighbors, friends, and relatives of the girls it is highly likely that Melquist was being used by Detective Teller to infiltrate groups or gangs of young people to help Teller get rid of Giancana’s narcotic trafficking competition.  Teller himself was convicted for narcotics trafficking due to a federal investigation that was going on at the same time.  There is one group in particular that knew the girls and may have been unwitting accomplices in snatching the girls shortly after they attended the Elvis Presley movie, Love Me Tender, at the Brighton Theater on Archer Avenue.  Witnesses saw the girls at the movie.

Based on the information, all of which has been forwarded to the Cook County Sherriff’s Police, this writer believes that there are three individuals who are still alive that have been harboring a terrible secret for years for fear of being charged with murder.  I don’t believe that any of these individuals, who would have been 15 or 16 at the time of the murder, had any idea what Melquist’s intent was and I would plead with them to have the courage now to come forward now to help give the remaining family of the Grimes girls closure.

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