Molly Zelko Mystery: Come See Joliet's Most Famous Shoes

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JOLIET, IL — The Joliet Area Historical Museum is hoping to attract as many as 200 people for a once in a lifetime presentation about one of Joliet’s most enduring murder mysteries: What Happened to newspaper editor Molly Zelko? The event is Saturday, Sept. 24, which marks the 65th anniversary of Zelko’s disappearance and presumed murder.

Zelko, the 47-year-old bull-headed editor of The Spectator, Joliet’s weekly print newspaper, disappeared from her driveway moments at 413 Buell Ave. after returning home after a late night at the newspaper. She was never seen alive again. Her body was never found.

One of the most intriguing parts of the mystery is that Zelko eerily predicted her own demise. She feared the underworld powers of Joliet might take her out as she and her newspaper continued to expose more political corruption in Joliet, particularly tied to, of all things, pinball machines.

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During her final minutes of life, Zelko put up a fight, kicking off her shoes as her kidnappers abducted her from her Joliet residence.

She was never seen alive again, and her killers were never captured.

Find out what’s happening in Jolietwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

In hopes of drawing more attention to Molly Zelko and getting her case solved, the Joliet museum is hosting a program coinciding with the case’s 65th anniversary from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 24 at the downtown Joliet museum, 204 N. Ottawa St.

The event will feature a presentation from local journalist and retired managing editor Lonny Cain, who teamed up with the late Joliet Herald-News columnist John Whitehead to produce a lengthy investigative series of articles about “the Molly mystery” back in 1978.

As a result of the newspaper series, a woman on Stryker Avenue came forward and revealed seeing the burial of a body in an open ditch where construction work was taking place on the night of Zelko’s disappearance.

“Cain will present new evidence which further corroborates the Stryker Avenue theory,” the museum announced. “The event will also feature a display of personal artifacts relating to Molly’s life including the infamous pair of shoes found outside her home the morning after she disappeared.”

Molly Zelko lived at 413 Buell Avenue in Joliet. She rented the second floor for $55 a month. There was no evidence she slept in her bed the night she disappeared. File/John Ferak/Patch

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