Let’s face it: Chicago has a history of violence. From creepy kidnappings to gruesome fights, here are 11 famous homicides that have occured in our city. As these are true stories that involve mass murders, this article is not for the faint of heart. Consider this before continuing if you are easily upset.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Patricia Columbo Scandal
In the Elk Grove suburb of Chicago, 16-year-old Patricia Columbo began an affair with a married, middle-aged man named Frank Deluca who worked next door to her house in the 1970s. She revealed evidence of engaging in bestiality and, three years later, murdered her parents and brother in order to secure inheritance money. She shot her parents, but bludgeoned her brother with a trophy and stabbed him with scissors. However, Patricia's plan backfired: she had already been written out of the family will due to estrangement over her relationship.
2. Richard Speck Kidnapping
In 1966, Richard Speck broke into a townhouse in the Jeffery Manor neighborhood and kidnapped eight student nurses. He tortured, stabbed, and strangled his victims, as well as sexually assaulting one of them. Speck claimed he was drunk, under the influence of drugs, and did not remember a thing, but was still sentenced to death for his crimes; however, the sentence was later overturned and he died of a heart attack in 1991 after spending 25 years behind bars.
3. Unsolved Murder of the Grimes Sisters
Just a few days after Christmas in 1956, Barbara and Patricia Grimes went to see a movie and never returned home. Their bodies were eventually found, but their exact cause of death could never be discerned. Prior to the findings, police and their family received false leads in the form of ransom letters sent by a nearby mental patient. There was also a man who believed he dreamed their murder and where they were... and he was somewhat correct in the information he gave.
4. The Ripper Crew
This is truly one of Chicago's most grotesque homicides. It involves a gang that included Robin Gecht, once an employee of John Wayne Gacy (who, if you don't already know, you'll hear about soon), Edward Spreitzer, and Andrew & Thomas Kokoraleis. They led Satanic cult practices, the exact details of which are incredibly horrifying. The gang kidnapped prostitutes and tortured them through rituals that included body mutilation, rape, murder, and cannibalism. Two were sentenced to life in prison, while the others received the death penalty after their arrest in 1982.
5. Haymarket Square Riot
One of Chicago's most historically famous homicides occurred In 1886, when labor movement protesters clashed with police after a bomb was set off during a demonstration. In the end, seven officers and one civilian were left dead. Eight men were convicted for the bombing, four of which were hanged, while one killed himself and the others were sentenced to life in prison.
6. The Killer Clown
John Wayne Gacy is responsible for one of Chicago's most famous homicides. He sexually assaulted and murdered over 33 young boys between 1972 and 1978. Gacy appeared in parades as "Pogo the Clown," and though he lived in Norwood Park, he took victims from the city, stowed them in a crawl space, then dumped the bodies in the Des Plaines River.
7. Saint Valentine's Day Massacre
On February 14, 1929, several members of the North Side Irish gang were executed in a warehouse in Lincoln Park, allegedly by Al Capone's south side rivalry gang, though no proof was found. The operation involved two men dressed as cops and two dressed as civilians who used submachine guns to murder seven people. The police impersonators lead the "civilians" out by gun point to make it appear as if they had arrested the gunmen.
8. John Dillinger's Last Stand
Arising from a "shoot first" brand of policing, gangster John Dillinger was gunned down by police in the summer of 1934. He was set up by his girlfriend, who conspired with the FBI on the promise that she would not be deported (though she later was). He was killed by multiple gunshots at the Biograph Theatre.
9. Murder Castle
H. H. Holmes is known as the country's first serial killer, which is only one of the reasons his murders are some of the most famous homicides to ever take place. He designed and constructed a building to be a hotel for the World's Fair, yet a constant shuffle of contractors and workers ensured no one ever knew the true dimensions (or intentions) of the place. It was a mess of trap doors, windowless rooms, and labyrinth hallways. In all, he killed at least 27 people in Chicago and possibly up to 500 across the United States. Holmes was eventually caught in Philadelphia and was put to death in 1896.
10. The Lipstick Killer
In 1946, William Heirens confessed to killing three women, two of which he dismembered. He was given the nickname due to a message he scrawled on one victim's mirror, which read "For heavens / Sake catch me / Before I kill more / I cannot control myself." The man spent 65 years in prison before his death in 2012.
11. Murder of Bobby Franks
Nathan Leopold Jr. and Richard Loeb believed they were immune to societal boundaries, and to prove it, decided to kidnap and murder Loeb's 14-year-old cousin, Bobby. They pretended to give Bobby a ride, then stabbed him with a chisel and gagged him. Then they disposed of his body in Wolf Lake in Hammond, Indiana. Unfortunately (for the murderers), one boy left his glasses behind, which were a rare type in the area at the time, which led to their arrest. Richard Loeb was murdered in prison, but Leopold was paroled in 1958 and died of a heart attack in 1971.