Cold case: $10K reward offered for information on 1979 murders of Niles West High School students

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Monday, September 4, 2023
$10K reward offered on suburban cold case murders of teen girls
The bodies of Niles West High School students Eyvonne Bender and Sue Ovington were found in St. Paul Woods Forest Preserve in 1979.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Forty-four years later, and it's like no time has passed.

The pain never weakens, the memories never get easier, and the emptiness of not knowing who killed two teenage girls in Morton Grove is unbearable.

"We've just never had closure and never had peace about it," said Sharon Peterson, a victim's sister. "Every year we just don't lose hope, just don't lose hope."

On September 5, 1979, 17-year-olds Eyvonne Bender and Sue Ovington were found dead in the St. Paul Woods Forest Preserve in Morton Grove.

"Yeah, it hurts. It hurts not having them here. So, I really want the closure, and I hope that somebody comes up and lets us know something," Peterson said.

Students at Niles West High School, Ovington lived in Morton Grove and Bender lived in Skokie.

"She said, 'Sue and I are going to go shopping for school clothes.' And mom said, 'Be home by 5 for dinner.' 'OK,' and then, it never showed up," Peterson said.

Bender's sister said their car was found at a shopping center near Waukegan and Dempster roads. Their purses were inside, but there were no sign of the girls.

Their bodies were later found that night.

"Why were they in the woods? Why was she going to the woods? Was she delivering a package? What was going on?" Peterson said.

Decades later, there are still no charges filed and little is known of what happened that day.

"Mom has never been the same after that happened," Peterson said. "Our minds just keep going like this."

Morton Grove police said the investigation has remained open.

The case was reviewed by the North Regional Violent Crimes Task Force and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office Cold Case Unit.

The victims' families are hopeful that with a new $10,000 reward, now offered by a former classmate, someone will come forward with critical information.

"Oh, I'm hoping that somebody will read this, and somebody will come through and give closure," Peterson said.

Detectives in Morton Grove said they've interviewed witnesses from across the country and met with DNA experts. They asked anyone with any information to contact them.