Grimes Cold Case Still Solvable after 65 years

I was born in Chicago ten years after this murder took place.   My mother was about the girls’ ages when they were murdered, and she lived in the Back of the Yards neighborhood that bordered the McKinley Park neighborhood where the girls lived.  I remember how protective my mother was with us, but I didn’t really know why until she told me the story. 

A crowd of investigators can be seen at the location on German Church Road where the bodies of Barbara and Patricia Grimes were found on January 22, 1957.

Barbara and Patricia Grimes were 15 and 13 years old respectively.  They lived with their single mother Loretta, brothers Jimmy and Joey, and older sisters, Theresa and Shirley at 3634 S. Damen Ave.

On December 28, 1956, they left their home at approximately 7:00 pm to see their heartthrob Elvis Presley at the Brighton Theater at 4211 Archer Ave.  Some had seen them at the theater, but they never returned home that night. 

On January 22, 1957, at around noon, their frozen, nude bodies were discovered on the far side of a guard rail about 250 feet east of County Line Road on the Northside of German Church Road. 

I had written many articles on the case and will include the links at the end of the article.  After serving my country for nine years, and a career in law enforcement I became interested in the case when I started to write books on Chicago history. 

The more and more I talked with people, the more and more information would develop.  Nobody has ever been charged and convicted for the crime and for some reason it stuck with me.  The more law enforcement people I talk to (current and retired) I get the same response that for some reason this case has stuck with them.

There are clues and links to the mob, to the Chicago political machine, to crooked cops, to the Catholic Church, and to local gangs of kids that frequented the area and much I have written about before.  I, however, keep coming back to two particular incidents that happened the same night the girls went missing. 

Not many cops believe in coincidences and if you were ever in law enforcement you know what I mean.  So here goes.

On the night of December 28, 1956, the night the girls went to the show and didn’t come home, the police were called to the area of 35th and Seeley (2 blocks from the girls home) to a call of a fight at Kenneth “Duke” Ryan’s house at 3404 Archer Ave.  When they arrived they spoke with the father, Eugene.  The father stated that he was yelling at his son for coming home late at 11:30 pm and he was arguing with some friends, David Morgan of 3629 Archer Ave, Ronald Rapp of 3329 S. Oakley Ave., and Fred Johanes, of 3257 S. Leavitt St.

It seemed that Ryan stated that all of the above were in Rapp’s vehicle and Ryan and Morgan had jumped out of the car at 11:30 pm at 35th and Seeley and don’t know what happened in the car after they left.

Johanes and Rapp told police that they had been driving around with a 17-year-old girl in the car having sex and drinking whiskey. 

The strange “coincidence” is that two other young men, Earl Zastro, 15, of 3833 S. Wolcott and Eddie Lorden, 17, of 3416 S. Hermitage Ave.  told of seeing the Grimes girls playing “hide and seek” at you guessed it, 35th and Seeley at 11:30 pm!

It also turns out that even though these two events were going on simultaneously at the exact same location it never came out that all of the boys were very close friends.  Also, Eddie Lorden owned a 55 Blue Buick Special Hardtop that was seen by a number of people in tandem with a black ‘49 Mercury following the Grimes Girls down Archer Avenue after the movie had let out.  I wonder if Ronald Rapp owned a ’49 Mercury?

One of the individuals even bragged to a friend after the event that he drove the girls to German Church Road, forced them out of the car at knifepoint with no clothes on but didn’t intend to kill them. 

After the one individual was questioned by the police he went back to his friend and bragged that he, “just told the police what they wanted to hear”. 

According to newspaper reports, all were cleared of any wrongdoing with regard to the disappearance of the Grimes girls and the friend never went to the police with the information because she was threatened with death and the death of her family if she did. 

Also, one sticking point could be that one of the boys involved was the son of a Sergeant with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office who went on to be fairly influential.

I had started a podcast called “Murder and Mixology” with a friend and we are covering the background of the case in more detail.  We don’t make any money on it.  There are no ads that I am aware of.  We only have three episodes out so far and are hoping to have more out soon.

We also started a Facebook group dedicated to the case  

We are truly hoping that someone out there knows something and may be able to crack this case wide open.  Even though 65 years have gone by the girls still have family members who are looking for closure and we know that someone out there knows someone who knows something.

Some of the other Articles I have written are below

The Murder and Mixology Podcast link is below

Our Facebook Page is below

Find Chicago History The Stranger Side on FACEBOOK Find Ray Johnson on Twitter

If you love Chicago History please consider subscribing to my posts. You will receive an email that alerts you when a new article is published. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Tags: Grimes Sisters

Leave a comment