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Cold Cases of Beloit

The world is fascinated by murder. Something about the investigation process, collecting evidence, footage of interrogations, forensic evidence, it lets the public in on something that historically has been unreachable to the average eye. It lets us become a fly on the wall. 

I recently watched The Keepers on Netflix, a docu series about the 1960s murder investigation of Sister Cesnik, a nun who taught at a catholic school in Baltimore, MD. The murder just scratched the service of a broken system and uncovered an entire sexual abuse ring that victimized the teenage girls at Archbishop Keyoh High School.

By the end of the series, I couldn’t help but wonder what cases have run cold in Beloit. The Beloit Police Department relies heavily on the public to provide whatever information they can to solve these cases. For some of them, the trails have run dry, without any leads to follow. For others, it’s quite apparent who is responsible, but there just isn’t enough evidence to hold up at trial. Here are ten cases in Beloit that have run cold.

  1. Doland Burton, 21 and Joseph Greco, 21, 1959: The two men, who were known to frequent illegal gambling operations in Illinois, were found beaten in the trunk of a car on May 2. 
  2. Octavio Martinez, 32 and Ann Bergman, 18, 1962: On August 8, the pair had won a dance contest at the Town Lounge, when the were picked up by an unknown suspect as they left the building at around 12:55 a.m. About two hours later, Matrinez’s body was found shot to death near the Rockford Airport. Bergman’s body was found six days later in Ogle County.
  3. Loretta Lyons, 46, 1966: on june 9, Lyons’s husband found her body in a pool of blood in her home on Latham Road. There were signs of a struggle at the scene, but no evidence of forced entry. She was found strangled and beaten, though nothing had been taken from the home.
  4. Clarence Owens, 65, and Everette Hawley, 75, 1976: The two men were last seen at a farm auction near the Winnebago-Ogle county border. After an intense multi-agency investigation involving the Stephenson County Sheriff’s Department, their bodies were never found.
  5. Robert L. Simmons Jr., 31, 1982: Simmons was found shot near the Preston Street Liquor Store on April 8. His father had been involved in a confrontation with another suspect  at the store, where shots were fired and his son was hit.  It was determined that the shot was a result of the earlier dispute.
  6. Cheryl Jean Griffin, 1986: Griffin was found on October 25, stabbed to death at Kishwaukee Gorge Forest Preserve approximately 40 feet from the gated entrance. The investigation found she had worked as a prostitute in the area.
  7. Tammy L. Tracey, 21, 1987: Tracey was last seen at Searles Park in Rockford. She had gone there to wax her car, but the next day the vehicle was found with no sign of Tracey. After a lengthy investigation to locate her without success, skeletal remains were found on April 15. 1988. The remains were identified as Tracey. A large investigation into the crime turned up unsuccessful and the case remains unsolved.
  8. Connie Heerdt, 1991: Heerdt was found murdered on January 15. behind Doyle’s Circle K Lounge. The coroner’s office ruled the cause of death was asphyxiation due to strangulation. The investigation found she worked as a prostitute in the area.
  9. David Franks, 36, 1995: Franks’s body was found at the dead end corner of 1300 Collingswood on December 5. He had suffered multiple gunshot wounds . The investigation determined a beating had taken place at another location, and then he was brought to the Collingswood location. It is suspected the murder was over a drug dispute.
  10. Lottie W. Flowers, 71, 2002: On february 23, Winnebago County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a medical assist call to Flowers’s home. She was found in the living room with multiple stab wounds and brought to the hospital where she died. Flowers lived with her husband, son, and grandson, and was loved by many. She was very involved at church and delivered newspapers to Rockford Memorial Hospital.
  11.   These are only some of the cases that remain unsolved in the Beloit area. The list on the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office website goes on and on, and leaves me wondering what could possibly drive a person to take another human’s life. There is no answer to that question, but the victims still deserve justice, no matter how much time has passed. If you have any information regarding an unsolved case, do not hesitate to contact proper authorities.

 

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