Allegedly seen with Barbara and Patricia Grimes before their deaths, Elvis lookalike Bennie Bedwell becomes the prime suspect in the Chicago PD’s homicide investigation. What investigators believe will be an open and shut case quickly becomes more complicated when a dark mystery from the city’s past, with possible ties to the Grimes sisters’ murders, comes back to haunt them.
Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories show hosts Carter Roy and Wenndy Mackenzie follow Loretta Grimes and the lead investigators on the case in the wake of Barbara’s and Patricia’s deaths.
Chief Investigator Harry Glos and Sheriff Joseph Lohman examine the frozen, nude bodies of Barbara and Patricia Grimes where they were discovered. Barbara is curled up in a ball with Patricia’s arm crossing over her. It appears as if they had been using each other for warmth. The investigators speculate Bennie tossed them out on the side of the road to die of exposure. Recalling the murder of three other children a few years back, Harry is not as shocked as Joseph is at the sight.
At the Grimes’ house, the phone rings and Loretta picks it up. She begins to cry and rages at the sound of her ex-husband’s voice. She is angry at Joseph Grimes for leaving their children and for his continued absence during the police manhunt for their missing daughters. Joseph tries to comfort and reassure her that the killer will be brought to justice. Loretta doubts this will happen.
In a flashback, a restaurant owner named Minnie Duros tells a detective that Bennie came into work drunk early one morning with his friend Frank and two inebriated girls. They played a jukebox song and danced to rockabilly for a while. After they settled down and ate, the older girl that Minnie thought was Barbara started feeling sick. Concerned, Minnie urged the girls to stay but the boys pressured them into leaving. Although Barbara wasn’t thrilled about the situation, she was very adamant about staying with her sister.
When the bodies of Barbara and Patricia are found weeks later, Bennie is harshly interrogated for hours by one of Sheriff Joseph Lohman’s top captains. Physically manhandled, Bennie caves under the pressure and confesses to drinking, partying and having sex with the sisters. They were having a good time until he saw all the coverage of Barbara and Patricia’s disappearances on the news. Not knowing what else to do, Bennie said that he and Frank knocked out the sisters and dumped them on the side of the road.
Loretta does not believe a word of Bennie’s confession and says as much to the reporter who confronts her about it. She thinks it’s far more likely that the police pushed the story on the suspect to save face. Meanwhile, Bennie’s mother Ethel Bradberry visits him in jail. Ethel is in shock when her son tells her that he really did murder the Grimes girls.
Before Bennie’s hearing, Coroner Walter McCarron reveals autopsy evidence to Chief Investigator Harry Glos that proves the girls died the night they disappeared or soon after. It also proves Bennie’s innocence. His “confession” no longer lines up with the coroner’s determined time of death. Harry is certain that this revelation will ruin his reputation as an investigator.
At the hearing, Bennie recants everything and tells the court that he confessed under duress. He is released of all charges. Loretta approaches Ethel and reassures her that she had always been certain of Bennie’s innocence. Ethel is both relieved and sorry for Loretta’s losses.
The Chicago PD’s reputation takes a serious hit, compounded by their inability to close the case of three other children murdered just two years before – brothers Anton and John Schuessler, and their friend Robert Peterson.
Like Barbara and Patricia, the three boys disappeared after a trip to the movies and their naked, frozen bodies were found along the bank of a river. Each of their eyes were taped shut and, while cause of death was not apparent for the Schuessler brothers, Robert had been strangled. Police wonder if all five children were killed by the same person.
Sheriff Joseph Lohman meets a drunk Harry Glos in a bar. The latter cannot let go of his theory that Bennie murdered the Grimes sisters or was at least connected in some way. He also believes the coroner is incompetent and would have solved the case if Walter did a better job.
After his meeting with Sheriff Joseph Lohman, Harry gives a statement to the press about his theories. Walter fires him for compromising the investigation.
It is not until 1995 that justice is served for the Schuessler-Peterson boys. Their killer, Kenneth Hansen, is found and sentenced to a minimum of two hundred years in prison, but he swears that he did not kill the Grimes sisters. It seems unlikely that he would be lying about that when he had nothing left to lose.
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, a retired detective named Ray Johnson begins research for a book about Chicago ghost stories and their connection to true crime. He reads an account of Loretta Grimes making a Cook County detective promise to never throw away Barbara and Patricia’s case file, even if she wasn’t alive to see the promise fulfilled. He also learns that the murderer called Loretta twice to taunt her – once immediately after Barbara and Patricia’s bodies were found and a second time to claim credit for the murder fifteen-year-old Bonnie Leigh Scott in Addison, Illinois.
A man named Charles Leroy Melquist is convicted of murdering Bonnie but only serves eleven out of ninety-nine years before being released from prison. He passes away before Ray can speak with him, and the true culprit of the Grime Sisters’ murders remains a mystery.