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  • Jim Conover

Searching for a clue

Tonight I am frustrated so I'm going to ramble a little. During this "stay at home" order by the Governor, I have been thinking an awful lot about a very cold case. It bothers me and has for many, many years.

It has been 48 years since 13 year old Richard Griener disappeared from a hillside on a cold, cold evening back on January 17th, 1972.

I wasn't a police officer on that day, I was working as a boilermaker at Powerton Power Station just south of Pekin, Illinois building Unit # 5. I remember I had just finished eating dinner and was sitting watching the evening news when it came on the police and many others were searching for a missing boy. It was cold out and there was 6-8 inches of snow on the ground. I knew if he was perhaps laying out somewhere in that snow he would not survive the night. I put my winter outdoor clothes back on and joined the search party at the Pekin Park. A long search for the boy has failed to turn up any sign of the young lad. He simply vanished.

In 1974 I joined Pekin's Police Department and continued the search for Richard. All during my 20 years on the department, I followed every lead. every word, anything that might lead us to Richard. I questioned almost every suspect I arrested about his or her knowledge of the Griener boy.

In 1976, another young boy disappeared. This time it was 9 year old Mark Helmig. However his body was discovered in a freight car in East Peoria. We found no clues in that case either and it too, went cold.

In 1979, during another long investigation in which there were 16 young boys missing and murdered, we came up with a suspect. After several polygraph tests and long interrogations by some of the best investigators in this world, we were able to close several of the cases. However, the Griener case remained open because I and a couple of other detectives were not convinced that the suspect had any thing to do with Richard Griener's disappearance.

I retired in 1994 and I have continued my search. Many times over the years, we have received clues or information about Griener. We have followed cvery lead. We had dug holes all over this county. Some shallow and some as deed as houses and just as big using heavy Equipment. Nothing. I settled on three suspects, a Park commissioner, a judge and a school teacher. But was unable to get enough for an arrest. Though we certainly tried. As luck would have it, all three have passed away.

I wrote a book about this case after I retired, thinking it might cause someone to come forward with information. That book is "Slayer of Innocence". Me and my staff of film makers has recently produced a documentary about the case in fact about the whole book including all the cases. That Documentary is "Freight Train: Slayer of Innocence"

However, I never give up on a case. For that matter neither do any of the other police officers who were involved in the cases. I am right now looking for clues in the disappearance. Someone out there knows some about this boy.


I know a couple of people who probably have some information about the Griener case. I'm asking them to come forward and speak to us about it. One way or the other, alive or dead, we need to get closure for the Griener family.

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