IL - Richard Griener, 13, Pekin, 17 Jan 1972

Discussion in '1970's Missing' started by STANDREID, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Richard William Griener, 13, of Pekin, IL disappeared while out sledding on January 17 of 1972. He was last seen on a sledding hill in a local park. It is presumed that he has been murdered but no remains have been found.

    Those are the basics. I will add some additional remembrances, facts and conjectures in a following post.
     
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  3. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    If I remember correctly, his sled was found in the backyard of a residence as if it had been tossed there as someone passed by.

    At one time, I thought this might be a murder perpetrated by suspected serial child killer William "Freight Train" Guatney. I do not now believe this to be the case. Guatney was a transient who had a love for warmer climes and it would be unheard of for him to be in Illinois in the middle of January. The time he seemed to come to Illinois was in the summer months to work in places such as county fairs and carnivals. Guatney is strongly suspected of killing another Pekin boy in the summer 1976.

    Another theory is that Richard was accidentally killed in a late afternoon/early evening traffic mishap and the driver hid the body to avoid some type of trouble. This would not explain the sled, that is if I'm remembering the finding correctly. Obvious to me at least, if someone wanted to cover up a hit and run, they would conceal the sled with all the other evidence. The sled was a roll up type toboggan that would have been easy to hide.
     
  4. Cubby

    Cubby fly the W!

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  5. Satch

    Satch Active Member

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    It says that William Guatney was a suspect in Richard's disappearance. Is it known when Guatney attacked his last victim in comparison to when Richard was last seen? If the tobaggon was found near a house as reported above, I wonder if it was analyzed for DNA? Probably not, I don't think they did that in 1972. If the sled was discovered, how long from the time Richard went missing?

    Is it recalled, the number of streets or roads that Richard would have had to walk between the approximate time of 4 to 6 PM? The weather if sowing and slippery could indicate Richard susceptible to falling and injury in a sledding accident. But this is unlikely because he would have almost certainly have been found. Rush-hour traffic during this time and the tragedy that Richard might have been struck by a car, with the driver in a panic hiding the body is a possibility. But if we know the sled was found, I agree with the poster above, it is strange that the driver, if an auto accident occurred, did not hide that as well.

    Were other people on the park's sledding hill at the time? How many? Important to note, was it ever established where suspect Mr. Guatney was at the time of Richard's disappearance?

    Satch
     
  6. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    I hope I am not misremembering about the sled. Perhaps it was his coat instead of his sled or maybe I'm confusing this with another case. It was almost 40 years ago and I'm strictly going by memory which might be flawed. Sorry if I've jumped the tracks here. I don't see it mentioned that anything was found anywhere else so consider it my mistake for the present.

    Just now, I sent an email to the Pekin Library so hopefully they can clear up the matter in the next few days.

    The other Pekin boy who was killed, and probably by Guatney, was Mark Helmig in 1976.
     
  7. CastlesBurning

    CastlesBurning New Member

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    It's highly possible that Richard could have been in a sledding accident of some kind. I remember sledding as a kid, and sometimes even on designated "safe sledding" areas, it's possible to misjudge the distance to a tree, or other hazards. Maybe he had an accident and someone panicked, hiding the body? IMO it's not likely, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.

    Secondly, are they 100% sure it was his sled they found? I'd imagine he had a common kind of sled that was mass produced, and probably many other kids in the area had the same kind...
     
  8. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    I could have been mistaken about the sled being found - perhaps it was a rumor. The Pekin Public Library did answer my email but only said I was welcome to come down and review their records on the case. I might do that sometime but won't make any promises. Their big deal is Everett Dirkson who was from Pekin.
     
  9. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    I have checked the map and Richard would have had to walk about a mile to return home from the park. It is all through residential areas so the idea that he could have been hit by a car and all the evidence gathered up without anyone seeing or hearing anything seems very nearly impossible to me. Especially since he would have been walking home about 6 PM on a Monday when people would have been coming home from work and sitting down for supper.
     
  10. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    I believe it was Mineral Springs Park but the high school's east campus, next-door, is also a popular sledding spot.
     
  11. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Looking at the map and the likely route a pedestrian might have taken, it looks like it would have been about a 3/4 mile or 15 minute walk from Richard's home to the center of the park. Depending on what part of the park he went to, his walking time would have been in the 10-20 minute range. My first guess is that he accepted a ride from the wrong person but that's a short enough walk that it's puzzling why he wouldn't decline and leg it. This makes me wonder if it could have been someone he knew like a person who lived in his general neighborhood.
     
  12. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    I'll charge up the GPS and try to drive the route sometime in the near future to see if I get any ideas.
     
  13. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    I'll try to do this drive in January to get the proper feel at the proper time. On January 17 the sunset was around 4:58 PM so it would have been black as midnight by 6 PM.
     
  14. Claudette

    Claudette Alouette, je te plumerai

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    I would like to know, was he last seen walking home? Did he randomly disappear from sledding? It would be full dark at 5pm and walking through residential, someone could easily have done something without anyone noticing, especially if there was no moon out. My senior year of college included a night class in winter that was all about a very large paper we had to write. My apartment was 1 - 1.5 miles away and you couldn't pay me to walk home on nights without the moon, or really any night at that. Walking that far at a leisurely stroll can take 20-30 minutes easy. It's a very creepy 20-30 minutes. I walked through mostly residential and no one is out at that time. It may be rush hour, but again...in winter, you get home and you run inside. I sure don't pay attention to my surroundings.
     
  15. Claudette

    Claudette Alouette, je te plumerai

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    I have to say, the saddest cases on Websleuths to me personally are the decades old missing kids cases. The cute, old black and white toothy kids smiling back...a picture 50 years old. So freaking sad.
     
  16. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Well, I'll get in gear for the test run. I still haven't made it to the library yet.
     
  17. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Well, I took the drive from the closest sledding area to Richard's house and it was right on one mile according to my odometer, so about a 20 minute walk at a steady pace. I made a run in each direction even though his return was incomplete. It was dark of course but with a fresh snow cover it might have been brighter that one would think. Street lights are mostly only at intersections. He would had to have walked a short distance along Broadway Road which is a mixture of business and residential but all the rest of the route outside the park is residential with one house right next to the other. The houses are small to medium in size and look like they are all old enough to have been there 40 years ago. All the neighborhoods along the way appear to be well maintained even today. That's about the only observations I can recall right now. If I think of something later, I'll add. About all that would have changed along the route are some of the businesses along Broadway that were built after 1972.
     
  18. nervous_nellie

    nervous_nellie Carpe Noctem

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    hi all, i just noticed this thread mostly because this is fairly close to my neck of the woods.. i was just a toddler when this happened and was wondering if this was one of the few years of my early childhood when central illinois had foot upon foot of snow... so, i checked the weather underground... http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KPIA/1972/1/5/MonthlyHistory.html#calendar
    and not only was it not one of those years, it was actually warmer than usual on and off thru january and not really if any snow. i remember those roll-up sleds, most kids had them (i had a green one :) ) anyway, this boy was 13 years old not exactly a little boy - was he suppose to be meeting up with anyone? seems odd to sled at night alone. or could it be that he told his folks he was going sledding and really had different intentions? either way it seems odd that he would be going out alone. and if the weather history is correct, that he would be going sledding...moo
     
  19. nervous_nellie

    nervous_nellie Carpe Noctem

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    ok, so my family is retired law enforcement in this area and i asked if they had any recollections of this case. they told me that aside from the "went sledding & never seen again" story was that the boys family had had some work done on their furnace and as a result of that le had their basement and yard dug up and found nothing. nothing has ever been found. the library may have some other articles on microfiche.... or if you are still in the area maybe its possible that some of the detectives are still alive and living in the area..

    i remember when i was young most parents would warn us not to wander off because "box car willie" might get us... i never new until just this morning that the now dead suspect in this case was who they were referring too...
     
  20. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Hi Nellie:

    According to the Charlie Project and Doe Network entries, he was last seen by his friends near the sledding hill at 5:30 PM. At present, I have no information beyond that.
     
  21. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Now I need to go to the library to find that book then, if necessary, check the newspaper accounts.
     

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