On September 18, 1966, Valerie Percy was murdered in her parents’
home in Kenilworth, Illinois. The attack was brutal, her cause of death
being a fractured skill and 14 stab wounds. She was also so badly beaten
she was beyond recognition. The police ruled out burglary, as nothing
was taken. They also determined her attacker knew her. The crime suggests
personal investment, and the family dog didn’t bark or cause any
other kind of alarm during the attack. Authorities investigated thousands
of people and tracked leads across the United States with no success.
No one has ever been accused of her murder.
John Q. Kelly, one of the esteemed attorneys at Ivey Barnum & O’Mara,
was 13 at the time of Ms. Percy’s death. It was a case that had
always puzzled him. This murder was the first recorded murder in Kenilworth,
New York, and when the case was nearing its 50th anniversary, Kelly decided to investigate the case. However, all his requests
for information were denied. In April 2016, Kelly filed a lawsuit alleging
a violation of the Freedom of Information Act in Cook County Circuit Court.
It was filed against various Illinois agencies for refusing to release
records about the Percy murder. Mr. Kelly sued to release all records
related to the 1966 investigation conducted by the Village of Kenilworth,
the Illinois State Police, Cook County State’s Attorney’s
Office, the Chicago PD, and the Cook County medical examiner. Mr. Kelly
finds it odd that so little is known about such a nationally infamous
case, and that he hadn’t received a single document 6 months after
filing his request (unusual in a cold case).
In September of 2016, a Cook County Judge ordered the Kenilworth police
chief to release a 12-page memorandum, which outlined thousands of pages
of secret evidence from the case. Most of the memorandum was redacted,
making it almost as useless as the forbidden records. The reason for the
redaction and the reluctance to release more details is that allegedly
the investigation is still active. Later in December, a judge finally
ruled that the thousands of pages of police reports related to the case
will remain under wraps while the crime remains active. According to the
judge, the release of the documents would, “jeopardize the investigation.”
Mr. Kelly will likely appeal this decision.
Some suspects have been considered, including William Thoresen III, the
son of a Kenilworth industrial tycoon. The man was described as “violent”
and “a mental case,” and he had some unusual connections to
the Percy murder. However, Thoresen was killed in 1970, shot to death
by his wife in self-defense.
If the appeal fails, the public will still remain unaware of the details
of this sad case until the Kenilworth police regard it as inactive and
it will continue to remain a mystery.
Our experienced Greenwich personal injury lawyers have extensive experience representing victims and families of victims of
assault and homicide. If your loved one was harmed by a criminal, contact us at (914) 505-7067 or
fill out our online form for a free consultation. We are available 24/7.