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HomeCrime‘Want this for my parents’: Reward increased in 1979 murders of Niles...

‘Want this for my parents’: Reward increased in 1979 murders of Niles West students as families want answers

MORTON GROVE, Ill. — A reward has been increased to $10,000 to help solve the murders of two 17-year-old girls found shot to death inside a forest preserve in 1979.

On Sept. 5, 1979, Susan Ovington, 17, and Eyvonne Bender, 17, both students at Niles West High School, went to go to the E.J. Korvette shopping mall.

Later that evening, they were found shot to death in the St. Paul Woods, a forest preserve near the 6600 block of Dempster in Morton Grove.

Authorities estimated the time of death to be around 3 p.m. Their bodies were discovered by a search party consisting of a boyfriend and other friends.

A former classmate of the girls, who were both described as kind and involved in church, has increased the cash reward from $1,000 to $10,000 through Crime Stoppers.

Eyvonne Bender (L) and Sue Ovington (R)

While police said they have been actively working the case, families of the victims said they have been getting “the run around” for years.

Susan’s older brother, Dick Ovington, said authorities told him 45 people have been interviewed with another 60 left. He asked if he could see the list, because he might be able to give information, and a meeting was set up for last Wednesday.

When his sister texted the detective a reminder to bring the list, the family told WGN News the list could no longer be shared with them.

“For 44 years we just got the run around,” Ovington said. “It’s really the same, we’re on the fourth set of detectives and every set was like reading off a script.”

Morton Grove police told WGN News some names were going to be discussed at the meeting, which was canceled by Ovington.

“We have no hard feelings for any of the families,” Cmdr. Dennis Johnson said. “We sympathize and understand the situation. We have worked hard and continue to do everything we can to bring in a successful resolution.”

The sister of Eyvonne agrees with Ovington.

“I haven’t been happy about it,” Sharon Peterson said. “They don’t seem to be able to solve it.”

Peterson and her family experienced some weird things shortly after the murders.

Upside down crosses were spray-painted on her family’s garage door, driveway and on her father’s car.

Peterson moved back from Texas to the area right before the murders and received an eerie phone call about a month after the slayings.

“It was a girl and she said, ‘Hey how are you? Do you know who this is? It’s me, your sister,’” she recalled.

Peterson froze and then immediately hung up.

Now on its fourth set of detectives, police are hoping new technology, which has caught suspected killers in cold cases across the country, can help.

Eyvonne Bender (L) and Sue Ovington (R)

Police told WGN News progress has been made in regards to DNA — they have traveled out of the state and DNA has been collected for analysis.

They said private labs, such as Bode, have been analyzing DNA evidence and grants have been applied for additional testing and analysis.

Peterson hopes the new technology helps police close the case.

“I want this so bad for my parents to have closure — being dad is 91 and mom is 87,” Peterson said. “I want this so bad, it has really destroyed my mom.”

Anyone with information can make an anonymous tip to 847-663-3828 or email

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