The Grimes Sisters, Barbara and Patricia (15 and 13 respectively) left home for the cinema on Friday 28th December 1956, to see a showing of Love Me Tender. Both were big Elvis Presley fans and this was their fifteenth time seeing the film. They were spotted cheerfully buying popcorn at the cinema by a friend. When the teenagers did not return home at the expected time, two older siblings were sent to the bus stop to wait for them. By the small hours of the morning, the family had decided to call the police. Initially the police didn’t take it very seriously, believing the girls to have run away of their own accord, despite their mother’s insistence this wasn’t the case (medium.com). Once the case was changed from a runaway case to abduction a search party was sent out but found no evidence of them, and the community grew nervous for their safety.
On 22nd January, Leonard Prescott was driving home and saw two mannequins by Devil’s Creek. The image stuck in his mind and upon arriving home, he was questioning what he had seen. Returning to the site with his wife, they found the naked, frozen bodies of Barbara and Patricia Grimes in the snow next to the road; they showed signs of serious decomposition despite the weather. The police tests showed they had both been dead within hours of the end of the film by the food in their stomachs. They found no alcohol in either girl’s systems.
What makes this case eerie is the fact that people had been seeing and talking to the two sisters in the three weeks after disappearance, before they were found:
On the 29th December, a security guard gave the sisters directions; on the 30th December, they were seen with restaurant employee Edward Bedwell by the owner and later that day a hotel worker remembered having seen the pair checking into the hotel; they were seen on a bus driving away from Chicago; and listening to CDs in a department store (thecurrentatahs.com). In early January, they were refused a room in a different hotel due to their ages. And on 14th January, a classmate’s mother answered her home phone to one of the girls asking to speak to her friend, although she promptly hung up the phone.
The case gained national attention, a wide-scale search with help from neighbouring towns and counties – even Elvis Presley was involved, imploring the sisters to return home safely. This stemmed from a theory that they had run away to Tennessee to try and meet the rock star. Presley addressed them over the radio, “If you are good Presley fans, you’ll go home and ease your mother’s worries,” (rare.us) tragically unaware that it was already too late.
There were several suspects including a 21 year-old named Edward Lee Bedwell who actually confessed to the murders, giving great detail about that evening and how they ended up on the side of the road naked. What made this suspect interesting was the fact that he’d been seen with the girls after their disappearance and looked like Elvis Presley, which might have attracted the girl’s attention, but his information did not match the autopsy results. Before long he retracted his confession, claiming to have been coerced and threatened into making it.
Around a year later, 15 year-old Bonnie Leigh Scott was murdered in very similar circumstances, and was the same age as Barbara when she died. A man named Charles Leroy Melquist was sentenced to 99 years in prison for Bonnie’s murder, but despite the comparisons he was not charged for the Grimes sisters’ murders.
It’s been over 60 years since the Grimes sisters went to see Love Me Tender just after Christmas, and unless there’s some DNA evidence that can be tested with today’s technology, it’s likely that their murder will remain unsolved.