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  1. #1
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    IL - Roberta Rinearson, 10, Brookfield, 17 Dec 1948

    Roberta Rinearson
    Brookfield, Illinois (Chicago Suburb)
    Unsolved Murder
    17 December 1948

    Vital Statistics

    Born 1938
    Died 17 or 18 December 1948
    Age at the time: 10 years old
    Sex: Female
    Race: White
    Hair: Blonde
    Clothing: Blue Jumper Dress (school uniform)

    Circumstances:

    Roberta was last seen alive when she left her home in Suburban Brookfield, IL at 6PM, Friday night, 17 December 1948. She was walking alone and was to attend a movie at the nearby suburb of La Grange.

    Her body was found the next morning eight miles from her home in a ditch near a cemetery. She had been beaten, gagged, strangled and had been sexually assulted.

    ---------------------------------
    Associated Press News Article from:

    New York Sunday News
    December 19, 1948 Page C3

    Find Girl, 10, Raped, Slain in Chicago Ditch
    Chicago, Dec. 18 (AP).

    The ravished body of a pretty, blonde 10-year-old parochial school girl, missing since she left home last evening for a movie was found today in a ditch near a cemetery. She had been beaten gagged and strangled.
    The victim, Roberta Rinearson, was found by a railroad bridge attendant between Chicago and suburban Elmhurst.

    The body was clad in a blue jumper dress of the type worn by pupils at
    St. Barbara's Catholic School in suburban Brookfield, where the Rinearson girl was a pupil. Coroner's physicians said there were bruises on her throat, indicating she had been strangled.

    Dumped from Car.

    Automobile tracks in the soft earth of the road shoulder where the body was found led police to believe her body had been dumped from an automobile.

    Roberta was last seen alive when she left home alone at 6 P.M. to attend a movie at the nearby suburb of La Grange. Her body was found about eight miles from her Brookfield home. She apparently was slain about midnight.

    Police said Roberta and two older sisters had been living for several years with their grandmother, Mrs. Anna O'Donoghue. They said they did not know the wherabouts of the victim's parents, Robert and Eleanor Rinearson. Rinearson, 41 fomerly was a Chicago policeman.

  2. #2
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    Roberta's parents?

    The above quoted newspaper indicated that the wherabouts of Roberta Rinearson's parents was not known and that she had been living with her two sisters at her grandmother's house.

    It also mentioned that her father, Robert Rinearson was a former Chicago cop and was age 41 in 1948 - which would make him 101 today if still living.

    I found the following person in the Social Security Death Index who might be the father, althoug the age is off by two years from what the news paper said (not all that of a discrepancy given that it might have been a guess by a family member).

    Name: ROBERT M RINEARSON
    born: 19 Mar 1905
    died: 24 Aug 1992
    Last residence: zip-53191 (Williams Bay, Walworth County, WI)
    Last benifit paid to: (none specified)
    ssn: 335-20-2340
    ssn issued in Illinois

    I also found a woman by the same last name, also from Illinois, who died in the same Wisconsin county. Although her name is not Eleanor, this could be Robert's sister or perhaps a different wife.

    name: LILLIAN A RINEARSON
    born: 07 Feb 1904
    died: 18 Jun 1999
    last residence: zip - 53121 (Elkhorn, Walworth County, WI)
    last benifit paid: (none specified)
    ssn: 346-03-7653 (issued by Illinois)

  3. #3
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    Rinearson and Weckler cases connected?

    I wonder if Roberta Rinearson's abduction and murder might have been linked to the 1947 disappearance of Georgia Jean Weckler of Wisconsin? The crimes were committed only a year apart and in adjacent states. Both victims were young (8 and 10) blonde girls who were both dressed in blue school clothing. The abductor(s) apparently used a motor vehicle in the commission of both crimes.


    LINK to Websleuths thread for Georgia Jean Weckler-8 year old Missing Since 1947:

    http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=23798

  4. #4
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    It seems likely that this poor girl's killer is himself deceased now and facing justice in a different court.

  5. #5
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    1948 brookfield Ill

    Does anyone out there remember a young girl named Roberta Rinerson who was murdered, and the killer never caught?

  6. #6
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    I was six years old and lived in Brookfield, I remember my folks talking about this crime, and not allowing my sister and I out of their sight and of course constant reminders about not talking to strangers.
    I remember a man who worked across the street from our apartment, he always gave us candy, somehow it has always been stuck in the back of my mind that he had something to do with this case. I remember his name the car he drove, and where he lived, I also remember him being parked around St Barbara's school sometimes when school would let out,I also remember him eating frozen strawberry's in a white freezer carton. Looking back I remember weird things about him.

  7. #7
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    I wonder if Roberta's murder is in any way connected with the murders of the Grimes Sisters, Barbara and Patricia and also John and Anton Schuessler and Bobby Peterson. There was quite a time span between Roberta Rinearson's murder and the others - the Schuessler/Peterson murders were in October 1955 and the Grimes' sisters disappeared in late 1956 and weren't found until January 1957. I know Kenneth Hansen was convicted nearly 40 years later for the Schuessler/Peterson murders. He was connected to Silas Jayne of the notorious Chicago Horse Mafia. But the common demoninator in these murders is that they all disappeared after going to the movies. I wonder if some predator was prowling movie theaters in Chicago in the 40s and 50s and never got caught.
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  8. #8
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    Is it odd that she was wearing her school uniform to go to a movie at 6:00? It seems odd to me, but I've never worn a school uniform, so I don't know if this is something people normally do.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. E View Post
    Is it odd that she was wearing her school uniform to go to a movie at 6:00? It seems odd to me, but I've never worn a school uniform, so I don't know if this is something people normally do.
    I find it somewhat strange that she left her home at that time and wore the uniform. When I wore uniforms to school in the 60s-70s, I would sometimes wear the uniform if I went to the mall or the movies directly after school. But if I went home first and met someone later I would always change. Who knows, though? Maybe she got home from school late and didn't have time to change.
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  10. #10
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    From an old trunk...

    Quote Originally Posted by brookfieldgirl View Post
    I was six years old and lived in Brookfield, I remember my folks talking about this crime, and not allowing my sister and I out of their sight and of course constant reminders about not talking to strangers.
    I remember a man who worked across the street from our apartment, he always gave us candy, somehow it has always been stuck in the back of my mind that he had something to do with this case. I remember his name the car he drove, and where he lived, I also remember him being parked around St Barbara's school sometimes when school would let out,I also remember him eating frozen strawberry's in a white freezer carton. Looking back I remember weird things about him.

    Welcome to Websleuths, Brookfieldgirl! Thank you for your comments and insight about Roberta's case.

    Did you know Roberta or her family personally?

    This case came to my attention when I was cleaning out my garage a few weeks ago. An old olive drab army style footlocker or trunk had been there for about ten years. It came out of an attic to an old house which I had cleaned out.

    Inside the trunk were a lot of old newspapers dated in December of 1948. One of them contained the information about Roberta's disappearance.

    In trying to find more information about this case on the internet, I ran accross the Mcelwain Family Genealogy Forum. In it, one person posted in February 2006 looking for information about a man named Robert C. Rinearson of Cook County, Illinois who was born in 1857. There was one reply to her question by someone referencing the case of Roberta Rinearson.

    It is quite likely that the first poster is related to Roberta, but I was unable to make contact with either of the two who posted.

    Robert C. Rinearson, Cook County , Illinois LINK:

    http://genforum.genealogy.com/mcelwa...sages/178.html


  11. #11
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    Roberta Rinearson, 10, Murdered Friday, 17 Dec 1948, near Chicago, IL -

    Quote Originally Posted by brookfieldgirl View Post
    Does anyone out there remember a young girl named Roberta Rinerson who was murdered, and the killer never caught?


    Here is a link to a Websleuths thread and discussion on the case:



    http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=62060

  12. #12
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    Random abduction...

    Quote Originally Posted by MaryBeth View Post
    I wonder if Roberta's murder is in any way connected with the murders of the Grimes Sisters, Barbara and Patricia and also John and Anton Schuessler and Bobby Peterson. ... I know Kenneth Hansen was convicted nearly 40 years later for the Schuessler/Peterson murders. .... I wonder if some predator was prowling movie theaters in Chicago in the 40s and 50s and never got caught.
    Good questions. The impression that I get from this case is that (unless she was actually on her way to a secret meeting arranged earlier) Roberta's abduction was a random act by a serial killer. There does not seem to be any other connection such as ransom or revenge, etc.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. E View Post
    Is it odd that she was wearing her school uniform to go to a movie at 6:00? It seems odd to me, but I've never worn a school uniform, so I don't know if this is something people normally do.
    Even this many years later, my dd will come home from school and go right outside to play. I'll even ask her if she wants to change from her uniform, but she'll tel me she's comfortable.

    It's a shame this murder has never been solved.

  14. #14
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    Unsolved...

    Quote Originally Posted by kahskye View Post
    Even this many years later, my dd will come home from school and go right outside to play. I'll even ask her if she wants to change from her uniform, but she'll tel me she's comfortable.

    It's a shame this murder has never been solved.
    I agree. It seems to have dropped out of memory or mention all these years until I ran across the story in that old yellowed 1948 Newspaper.

    I have tried searching for anything on line about it, but all I come up with is the above mentioned website and of course this Websleuths thread. Maybe someone else will be looking for Roberta Rinearson's case and will find this thread. It has happened before...

  15. #15
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    It appears that once the George Lettrich conviction for Roberta's murder was overturned in 1951 and the reefer-head Perez passed a lie detector test, the police just gave up. It really infuriates me that it is probably another case that today would be solved by DNA.

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