Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Valerie Percy

A Brief Life

Valerie Percy and her twin, Sharon, graduated from Joseph Sears Grade School in Kenilworth in 1958. While still in elementary school, they decided to establish their own identities. They stopped dressing alike and took separate bedrooms.

New Trier High School
New Trier High School

The twins attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, an adjacent Chicago suburb. Each spent her junior year studying abroad in Europe, but Valerie went to Paris and Sharon to Switzerland. They graduated high school together in 1962.

The sisters went separate ways for college. Sharon headed to Stamford University, on the West Coast, while Valerie enrolled at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Cornell University campus
Cornell University campus

Both were good students, and the attractive young women had active social lives. There are no indications that either girl was rebellious. "Sweet" is the adjective that friends and family often used to describe Valerie.

Valerie returned home soon after college graduation in the late spring of 1966 to help in their father's campaign for a United States Senate seat. Sharon went to Central African Republic for the summer to teach English, then joined her family just before Labor Day.

Sharon Percy, Valerie's sister
Sharon Percy, Valerie's sister

By then, Sharon was in love with Jay Rockefeller, scion of the wealthy family of American industrialists and politicians. Valerie was unattached, although she had plenty of admirers.

Jay Rockefeller
Jay Rockefeller

On the last night of her life, Valerie dined at home with her stepmother and two young friends and campaign workers, James Mann and Tully Friedman. She was in her bedroom by 10 p.m.

Sharon had borrowed a raincoat from Valerie for a date that Saturday night. She got home at about 11:30 and popped in on her sister to return the coat. Valerie was watching TV in bed. The sisters said goodnight for the last time, and Sharon retired to her own room.

 

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