Pregnant Woman Went into Labor When She Was Beaten to Death Along with Husband and Son — But Who Killed Them?

In November 1987, Russell Keith Dardeen and Ruby Elaine Dardeen shared a 3-year-old son, Peter, and had another child on the way

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Content warning: This story contains graphic details.

Russell Keith Dardeen and Ruby Elaine Dardeen shared a 3-year-old son named Peter and had another child on the way in 1987. In November of that year, the young married couple, who both went by their middle names, were brutally beaten and murdered along with their son.

According to the Rockford Register Star, the body of Elaine's unborn baby was also found near those of her and Peter after Elaine went into labor during the attack, which took place at their home in Ina, Ill.. All three were beaten to death with a baseball bat, according to the outlet, then tucked into bed together. Keith's body, however, was not located inside of the home, which initially made him the prime suspect.

One day later, Kieth was found murdered one mile away from the home, First Alert 4 reported. He had been shot multiple times and sexually mutilated. Nothing in the family home was missing, and there were reportedly no signs of forced entry.

Investigators searched for clues about who could have committed the grisly murders, but the case went cold, and the question of who killed the family remains unanswered.

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Keith's friend Kevin Harris — who was the best man at the couple's wedding — told KFVS-12, that Keith and Elaine were "two of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.”

“They were such loving, caring people,” Harris added. “It’s hard to imagine how somebody can do something like this.”

Years later, serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells claimed he was responsible for the murders, but he was reportedly known to falsely confess to multiple crimes across the U.S., and the Dardeen family murder is still considered unsolved. In 2014, Sells was executed for murdering a 13-year-old girl.

Kieth's mother, Joeann Dardeen, told KFVS-12 in 2019 that she'll never give up searching for her son and his family's killer.

"[Investigators] told us in the beginning that we need to keep the story out there," Joeann told the outlet. "We need to keep it going."

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