On Nov 8, 1952 around 150pm, Petronella M. Runkaitis Petreikis (1882 – 1952) finished working in the corn fields, in the Peotone Township of Will County, Illinois. She was sixty-six years old.
She needed to get back to her bed-ridden (diabetic) husband Kazimir Petreikis, and only had to cross US Highway 54 (now 45) to get home. She never made it.
Then-Officer Herman Deeke called this hit-and-run “the most brutal accident case I have ever investigated.”
Petronella‘s body was thrown 140 feet and one limb was found another 75 feet away. Witnesses said that the driver never stopped and drove so fast that all they saw was a “blue streak.”
The blue streak was a 1950 blue Ford, model unknown, of which the authorities found parts, including chrome and glass, near the crime scene. They sent the evidence pieces to the State Lab in Springfield. That’s where the determination of the make of the car comes from.
The family from Petronella M. Runkaitis Petreikis however, heard that maybe the car was a 1949 blue Lincoln. I have not found anything in the papers about that but then again, there is very little reported about this hit-and-run.
The driver raced towards Kankakee. Power line crews at work told the police that they saw a “blue streak” and then noticed Petronella’s dead body. State Police set up roads blocks but alas, neither car nor driver were ever found.
The front of this car would have been heavily damaged so I wonder about any garage repairs, private mechanics called to homes, car paint jobs, private car sales, etc. that took place around the time that Petronella was killed. If we still have any parts of the car, maybe by analyzing the paint, we can determine the model. The Ford Motor Company owns the Lincoln Motor Company since approx. 1922.
Thanks to the Petreikis Family, we also have some personal information about Petronella.
The family remembers the Petreikis farm well. It included a garden filled with rhubarb, strawberries, corn, and raspberries. Petronella spent a lot of time canning vegetables. It was a bountiful farm and provided the family with meals. There was a wood cooking stove. The family fondly remembers the smell of fresh-baked bread in the house.
Petronella also knew how to get her sons to relax. When they entered the room “she took out shot glasses and a bottle of whiskey and set it on the table.”
The family remembers that Petronella had a peddle sewing machine however, they don’t recall her actually sewing. She did make down feather quilts and pillows.
And about Kazimir, he took care of his family. He built their house and garage.
Petronella left behind her husband Kazimir Petreikis. They were born and raised in Lithuania and had been in the USA for decades. Together they had five sons and two daughters.
If you have any information about the Petronella M. Runkaitis Petreikis case please contact Illinois State Police through their website or the Will County Sheriff’s Office at 815-727-8575.
In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight old cold cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis and of course, more information can be found online and in newspaper archives.
We need to get these cases back in the mainstream media, to get people talking again, and if anything, to make sure that we do not forget the victims. Just because their cases are unsolved does not mean that we can forget about them.
I encourage you to share this post on your own social media platforms. By sharing these posts, the cases reach new networks, new connections, and new news feeds. Maybe one day these updates will pop up in the right person’s news feed. This may be someone who can actually help advance the case and that is my goal.
Rest in peace, Petronella M. Runkaitis Petreikis.