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Author Topic: Authorities exhume body of 7 yo Maria Ridulph abducted/murdered in 1957(Solved)  (Read 10482 times)
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MuffyBee
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« on: July 27, 2011, 06:28:46 PM »

http://www.stltoday.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/article_531c8e0e-8f13-5b3d-80df-fcc39deb7cab.html
Authorities examine body of girl killed in 1957
July 27, 2011

Illinois authorities on Wednesday began examining the remains of a 7-year-old girl who was abducted and killed more than 50 years ago, trying to find clues that would help them put together a criminal case against a 71-year-old former neighbor.

The body of Maria Ridulph was exhumed early Wednesday, weeks after authorities announced they'd arrested Jack Daniel McCullough in Seattle and charged him with murder in the death of the girl, who was abducted by a man as she played outside her home in Sycamore in December 1957. Maria's body was found the following spring in a wooded area about 120 miles from her home.

DeKalb County State's Attorney Clay Campbell said he hopes scientists now can "do a better examination of her remains here in 2011 than were conducted in 1958.
 ::snipping2::
McCullough, a onetime Sycamore resident, waived his right to extradition earlier this month. He was being returned to Illinois on Wednesday to face a murder charge, authorities said. He has denied any involvement in the girl's death.

When the girl's body was found, the cause of death was listed as foul play because medical officials at the time lacked any other explanation, Campbell said.

"There's a certain supposition that when a 7-year-old disappears and is found out in the woods that she was murdered," but how that happened is unclear, Campbell said.

"I think the job done back then was outstanding considering the state of medical science at the time," he said. "Now, we can look through the lens of modern science and see that it was inadequate."

The body was taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital for X-rays before being returned to the DeKalb County coroner's office, where it will be examined by a team of experts, including from the FBI and the Illinois State Police, Campbell said.

"We are investigating the murder of a 7-year-old child," Campbell told The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle. "Suffice it to say, we'll leave no stone unturned."

Authorities have not said what they hope to find, but one cold case expert said a body that has been in a casket for more than 50 years can still reveal evidence crucial to prosecutors.


 ::snipping2::
Walton said even after all this time, there could still be evidence linking a suspect to a crime.

"They might consider fingernail scrapings today to determine if there is any DNA," he said, explaining that while some DNA degrades over the years, some can still be used.

The key, he said, is the condition of the body, as everything from whether the body was embalmed to whether water seeped into the casket or bugs got inside will determine if there is any useful information.
 ::snipping2::
Campbell said the experts involved in the exhumation are "very, very satisfied" with what was found, but he would not comment on the condition of the remains out of respect for the Ridulph family.
 ::snipping2::
Maria's December 1957 abduction made national headlines, and President Dwight Eisenhower and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover reportedly requested daily updates on the massive search for her. The girl's body was found a few months later.

With no arrests, no new leads and the death of Maria's parents and investigators involved in the case, the story faded from memory as years passed. McCullough, who told detectives in 1957 that at the time of the girl's abduction he'd taken a train to Chicago, became the focus of the investigation again last year when a high school girlfriend of McCullough's discovered an unused train ticket to Chicago behind a framed photograph.

McCullough, then known as John Tessier, lived near the girl in Sycamore, 50 miles west of Chicago, and matched the description of the suspect given immediately after the disappearance by Ridulph's then-8-year-old friend, Cathy Sigman, who last saw her at about 6 p.m. on Dec. 3, 1957. Sigman said she left Maria with a young man and ran home to get some mittens; when she returned 15 minutes later, the two were gone.

In a July 7 jailhouse interview with The Associated Press, McCullough said he didn't kill the girl and maintained the same alibi he gave when first questioned by investigators when he was 18: that he could not have committed the murder because he had traveled to Chicago that day for military medical exams before enlisting in the Air Force.



« Last Edit: September 14, 2012, 01:40:42 PM by MuffyBee » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2011, 08:08:31 PM »

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/07/27/eveningnews/main20084467.shtml
With new lead, 1957 murder victim's body exhumed
July 27, 2011

CBS News)

It is a mystery that has haunted a Chicago suburb for more than a half century. A little girl was found murdered, and the only suspect in the case had gone free, until now.

CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds reports that police went to great lengths to try to close this cold case.

For 53 years, the grave of seven-year-old Maria Ridulph was undisturbed. Her unsolved murder case as cold as the ground that held her coffin.

On Wednesday morning, however, her remains were exhumed to see if modern science - and DNA - can support the authorities' belief that they've cracked this case at last.
More...
(Video at link)
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2011, 10:02:48 PM »

read this in my local paper..
sad that this child's body had to be disturbed but if it will solve her murder, then hopefully she can truly rest in peace...
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« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2011, 08:56:38 AM »

read this in my local paper..
sad that this child's body had to be disturbed but if it will solve her murder, then hopefully she can truly rest in peace...
So true Cookie.
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2011, 01:09:55 PM »

apparently arraignment has happened.....


1957 murder suspect to be arraigned Sept. 8

Seattle man charged with killing 7-year-old

posted August 30, 2011
snipped
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-08-30/news/ct-met-sycamore-murder-0830-20110830_1_maria-ridulph-sycamore-girl-dekalb-county-prosecutors
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2011, 01:13:24 PM »

Sep. 8, 2011 2:50 PM ET
Seattle man pleads not guilty in 1957 death


 ::snipping2::
Jack McCullough, 71, appeared via a video feed from the DeKalb County Jail to enter his plea in the more than 50-year-old death of Maria Ridulph of Sycamore. Judge Robbin Stuckert also granted the prosecution's request to test McCullough's DNA against evidence recovered from the girl's body.

McCullough responded "Yes, your honor," when the judge asked if he understood that he faces a sentence of life in prison. A grand jury in August indicted McCullough — who went by the name John Tessier when he lived in Sycamore — on felony murder, kidnapping and abduction charges.
 ::snipping2::
In a July 7 jailhouse interview with The Associated Press, McCullough said he didn't kill the girl and maintained the same alibi he gave when first questioned by investigators when he was 18: that he could not have committed the murder because he had traveled to Chicago that day for military medical exams before enlisting in the Air Force.

His next court date is Sept. 22.
http://hosted2.ap.org/COGRA/APUSnews/Article_2011-09-08-1957%20Killing/id-1a569ef28b1a477a96413b52d6416d38


This July 27, 2011 file photo provided by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in Sycamore, Ill, shows Jack Daniel McCullough, 71, who has been charged in the 1957 murder of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in Sycamore. At his arraignment Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011, in Sycamore, McCullough pleaded not guilty via video feed from the DeKalb County Jail. McCullough was arrested in Seattle and brought to Illinois in July to face the murder charges. (AP Photo/DeKalb County Sheriff's Department File)
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« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2011, 01:17:03 PM »

omg  she looks like me when I was little   


http://www.google.com/search?num=50&hl=en&newwindow=1&biw=1280&bih=672&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&q=Maria%20Ridulph
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« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2012, 01:38:29 PM »

 ::justice2NJ::

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-mccullough-guilty-of-killing-girl-7-in-1957-20120914,0,2995426.story
Former neighbor guilty of killing girl, 7, in 1957
September 14, 2012

A 72-year-old Seattle man was found guilty today of the kidnapping and murder of a 7-year-old Sycamore girl, whose disappearance in 1957 captured the concern of Americans all the way up to President Dwight Eisenhower.

Judge James Hallock found Jack McCullough guilty of killing Maria Ridulph, whose body was found months after she vanished while playing near her home in December 1957.
 ::snipping2::
Back in Sycamore, the Ridulph case languished until 2010, when a former girlfriend of McCullough's came forward and cast doubt on his alibi. Police re-interviewed Chapman, who was shown a photo lineup and picked out an old picture of McCullough. The young man in the photo, she told police, was "Johnny."

In July 2011, police arrested McCullough.

As part of the re-opened investigation, police interviewed one of McCullough's sisters, who reported that McCullough and two other men sexually assaulted her in 1962 in Sycamore when she was 14. He was charged with that crime, too, in 2011, but was acquitted in April by Judge Robbin Stuckert.

Both sides rested their case Thursday in the trial shortly after a jail inmate testified that McCullough, a former Sycamore resident, incriminated himself in the 1957 slaying of a young girl.

The final major prosecution witness was Kirk Swaggerty, a convicted murderer who was in the DeKalb County Jail with McCullough in 2011. Swaggerty testified that McCullough spoke of accidentally suffocating Maria on Dec. 3, 1957.

"He said he was giving her a piggyback ride on his shoulders, and when she fell, she wouldn't stop screaming, and when she wouldn't keep quiet, he suffocated her," Swaggerty said.

Chapman had testified that the man named Johnny gave Maria a piggyback ride.

Swaggerty was the third jail inmate to testify against McCullough.

Under cross-examination, Swaggerty acknowledged that he has filed a motion seeking a reduced sentence. He was sentenced last year to 33 years in prison for planning a home invasion and robbery in which one person was killed.
Swaggerty, 42, said he did not contact authorities because he expected any reward.

"I really wanted to do something right," he said. "I'm going to die in prison. I just felt like I should do it."

McCullough's sister Mary Hunt, the first defense witness, gave a less definitive account of a comment reportedly made by her mother, Eileen Tessier, as she lay dying of cancer in January 1994.

Another sister, Janet Tessier, testified earlier this week that their mother made an explicit reference to McCullough being involved in Maria's disappearance. Hunt, however, testified that she recalled her mother said only, "He did it," without providing other context.

Under cross-examination by prosecutors, though, Hunt said she knew what her mother meant.

Defense attorneys also called a doctor who had performed surgery on the mother shortly before she died.

In exam notes he made before a surgery to install a drug shunt, the surgeon, John Prabhakar, described Eileen Tessier as "pleasantly confused." The doctor, now retired, said he had no independent recollection of treating Tessier.
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« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2012, 01:39:44 PM »

I'm moving this on over to "Finally Solved".  It's sad Maria's mother didn't live long enough to see her daughter's murderer brought to justice.
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« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2012, 01:50:30 PM »

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/trial-1957-school-girls-murder-nears-end-17231908#.UFNsMq7BnIU
Ex-Cop Convicted in 1957 Murder of Ill. Girl, 7
September 14, 2012


 A 72-year-old man was convicted Friday in the slaying of a 7-year-old Illinois girl snatched from a small-town street corner 55 years ago.

Judge James Hallock pronounced Jack McCullough guilty of murder, kidnapping and abduction in one of the oldest cold-case murders to go to trial in the United States.

McCullough was around 17 years old on the snowy night in December 1957 when second-grader Maria Ridulph went missing in Sycamore, about 60 miles west of Chicago. He later enlisted in the military, and ultimately settled in Seattle where he worked as a Washington state police officer.

Among those attending the weeklong trial was Ridulph's playmate, Kathy Chapman, who testified that McCullough was the young man who approached the girls as they played, asking if they liked dolls and if they wanted piggyback rides.

"A weight has been lifted off my shoulders," Chapman said with a smile on the courthouse steps after the conviction was announced. "Maria finally has the justice she deserves"
More...

(2 pages)
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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2012, 01:52:38 PM »

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/14/13862379-72-year-old-man-convicted-of-slaying-illinois-girl-in-1957?lite
72-year-old man convicted of slaying Illinois girl in 1957
September 14, 2012

Nearly 55 years after the remains of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph were found in Illinois, Jack Daniel McCullough, 72, was convicted Friday for the girl's kidnap and murder.

DeKalb County Sheriff's Dept. via AP, file

Jack McCullough, of Seattle, is seen in a mug shot taken July 28, 2011.

The trial of the former Washington state police officer in Dekalb County, Ill., is believed to be one of the oldest cold case murder prosecutions in U.S. history.

McCullough now faces life in prison when he is sentenced later this year.
 ::snipping2::
McCullough pleaded not guilty in the case. He waived his right to a jury trial and opted for a bench trial instead that lasted a week. He declined to testify. Following four days of testimony examining the slaying of Ridulph, prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case rested on Thursday, and Judge James Hallock heard closing arguments on Friday.
 ::snipping2::
A massive search to find Ridulph was launched by the FBI and in April 1958, investigators found the girl’s skeletal remains in a forest some 120 miles away from her home. 

McCullough, who then went by John Tessier, was on an early list of suspects in 1957, but he claimed that on the day Ridulph was kidnapped, he had traveled to Chicago to get a medical exam before enlisting in the Air Force.

The FBI said the case went cold after McCullough joined the military and legally changed his name to Jack Daniel McCullough.

Investigators reopened the case a few years ago after McCullough’s former girlfriend told them she found his unused train ticket from Rockford to Chicago on the day Ridulph vanished. He was arrested on July 1, 2011 at a his home in Washington state where he worked as a security guard. A judge set his bail at $3 million and police kept him in custody until he would return to Illinois to be prosecuted.
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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2012, 01:54:15 PM »

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Closings-set-in-trial-of-man-in-girl-s-1957-death-3864599.php
Ex-cop convicted in 1957 murder of Ill. girl, 7
September 14, 2012


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« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2012, 09:20:22 PM »

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/2012/09/14/man-convicted-murder-year-old-girl/85BdqxxG6ZPmtfWTjccC7L/story.html
Man convicted in 1957 murder of 7-year-old girl
September 14, 2012


YCAMORE, Ill. (AP) — For most of five decades, it seemed no one would ever be held accountable for the murder of a 7-year-old Illinois girl snatched off a small-town street corner as she played.

Now someone has.

Fifty-five years after Maria Ridulph vanished, her friends and family let out a deafening cheer Friday as a judge pronounced a former neighborhood teen — now a 72-year-old man — guilty of the kidnapping and murder. It was one of the oldest unsolved crimes in the U.S. to make it to trial.

The roar of approval soon gave way to loud sobs from those who knew the little girl whose body was found after a five-month search that drew national media attention and haunted people across the country. Jack McCullough, who was 17-year-old John Tessier at the time, showed no hint of emotion.

‘‘A weight has been lifted off my shoulders,’’ said Kathy Chapman, 63, who was playing with Maria in the snow on the night of Dec. 3, 1957, before she vanished. ‘‘Maria finally has the justice she deserves.’’

McCullough approached the two girls as they played and won Maria’s trust by talking about dolls and giving her piggyback rides, Chapman testified. At some point after Chapman had gone home, authorities say McCullough dragged Maria into an alley, choked her with a wire, then stabbed her in her throat and chest.

McCullough was briefly a suspect, like more than 100 others, in the 1950s, but he had an alibi. He told investigators he had been traveling to Chicago to get a medical exam before joining the Air Force. He settled in Seattle, working as a Washington state police officer.

As the months became years, many Sycamore residents assumed the killer must have been a transient — perhaps a truck driver passing through but not connected to the town.

A deathbed accusation by McCullough’s mother in 1994 — passed on to police by his half-sister in 2008 — led to a chain of events that brought about his conviction.

His mother, Eileen Tessier, had lied to police canvassing the neighborhood in 1957 about her son’s whereabouts, buttressing his alibi, prosecutor Julie Trevartchen said Friday.

‘‘She knew what she did and she didn’t want to die with that on her conscience,’’ she said.

McCullough’s girlfriend in the 1950s also contacted police with evidence that called his alibi into question. She had found his unused train ticket from Rockford to Chicago for the day Maria disappeared.

The case seemed a long shot — at least at the beginning.
More...
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« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2012, 10:00:38 AM »

 ::justice2NJ::
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« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2012, 10:46:13 AM »

::justice2NJ::



X 2 =   ::justice2NJ:: ::justice2NJ::   
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« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2012, 09:50:12 PM »

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-sentencing-for-sycamore-girls-57-murder-now-set-for-dec-10-20121130,0,3962660.story
Sentencing for Sycamore girl's '57 murder set for Dec. 10
November 30, 2012

A Dec. 10 sentencing date has been set for the man found guilty of murdering a 7-year-old in Sycamore in 1957.

Jack McCullough, 73, of Seattle, had been scheduled to be sentenced today for the murder and kidnapping of Maria Ridulph. However, his attorneys earlier asked for a new date to prepare more adequately for the sentencing hearing.

McCullough was arrested in 2011, almost 54 years after Maria was abducted from a street corner in Sycamore where she and a young friend had been playing. Maria’s body was discovered months later near Galena, but the case remained unsolved until a half-sister of McCullough, who suspected his involvement, convinced police to reopen the investigation.

He was found guilty at a September bench trial, where Maria’s playmate identified an old photo of McCullough as being the man who approached her and Maria shortly before Maria disappeared.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2012, 07:53:54 AM »

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/10/decades-after-crime-73-year-old-man-to-be-sentenced-in-157-slaying-northern/
Decades after crime, 73-year-old man to be sentenced in 1957 killing of Illinois girl
December 10, 2012



CHICAGO –  A 73-year-old man who was convicted this fall of kidnapping and murdering a little girl more than a half-century earlier was expected to return to court Monday for sentencing.

Jack McCullough faces a maximum sentence of life in prison when he stands before a judge in the DeKalb County community of Sycamore, the same town where 7-year-old Maria Ridulph's life ended in December 1957.

The sentencing in one of the oldest unsolved crimes in American history to go to trial will likely be watched by members of Ridulph's family and McCullough's family, as well as 63-year-old Kathy Chapman, who was playing with Maria on the last day of her life.

Sentencing hearings typically include statements from relatives of the victim. Whoever gets a chance to speak, whether they are members of Maria's family or McCullough's, they will likely say the same thing: He deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"He is as evil as prosecutors painted -- and some," said Janet Tessier, McCullough's half-sister, after he was convicted in September. Her decision to tell police about incriminating comments McCullough's and Tessier's mother made just before she died in 1994 played a crucial role in McCullough's 2011 arrest and subsequent conviction.
 ::snipping2::
McCullough was one of more than 100 people who were briefly suspects, but he had what seemed like a solid alibi. On the day of the girl vanished, he told investigators, he'd been traveling to Chicago for a medical exam before joining the Air Force.

McCullough ultimately settled in Seattle and was a Washington state police officer.

Once a new investigation was launched, authorities went to Chapman and showed her an old photograph of McCullough. She told them the picture showed the teenager who came up to her and Maria that snowy day and identified himself as "Johnny."

After his conviction, McCullough wrote a letter addressed to Sycamore residents claiming FBI documents that he said backed his alibi had been barred from the trial.

The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle reported that McCullough wrote: "If all parties had read the documents, it should have caused a reasonable person to conclude that I could not have been `Johnny,' because at the exact time of the kidnapping, I was in Rockford, 40 miles away."

McCullough did not testify during his trial. He will have a chance to speak at Monday's sentencing.
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« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2016, 12:52:04 PM »

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/jack-mccullough-to-sue-illinois-for-wrongful-conviction-imprisonment/
Ex-cop plans to sue over conviction in 1957 killing of girl
April 18, 2016

Retired police officer Jack McCullough was convicted of killing a little girl in Illinois more than half a century after the crime. But he was released on Friday after a prosecutor found he could not have done it, and McCullough's conviction was overturned.

McCullough said he will sue the state for the suffering from five years of imprisonment.

Now, one of America's oldest cold cases is re-opened again.

The murder of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph occurred nearly 60 years ago, but McCullough wasn't convicted until 2012, reports "48 Hours" correspondent Erin Moriarty.

The 76-year-old sighed heavily before leaving court a free man.

"I was thinking, 'I'm going back to prison.' Then he all of a sudden went the opposite direction, and God bless him," McCullough said after his release.

 
The decision came after the DeKalb County state's attorney said a review of the evidence, including newly uncovered phone records, confirms McCullough was miles away when Ridulph's kidnapping occurred.

"This new information is information that the trial court did not have available to consider when it made its ruling," Judge William P. Brady said in court.


In 1957, Ridulph disappeared after a stranger approached her and her 8-year-old best friend, offering them piggy back rides. Ridulph's body was found five months later. McCullough was an early suspect but had an alibi.

"I was in Rockford, 40 miles away," he told "48 Hours" in March 2013.

The case went cold for five decades, until McCullough's own mother appeared to make a stunning deathbed declaration.

"She grabbed my wrist in the strongest grip. She said, 'Those two little girls and the one disappeared. John did it. And you have to tell someone,'" said Jan Tessier, McCullough's sister.

The new investigation revealed another possible crime: one of his sisters said that McCullough had raped her as a teenager. He was acquitted of rape, but later stood trial for Ridulph's murder.

Unable to present his alibi evidence because most of his witnesses were dead, McCullough was found guilty.

"Is it possible then that you were acquitted of what you did do and convicted of what you didn't?" Moriarty asked McCullough in 2013.

"That could be," he responded.

"Is that what happened?" Moriarty asked.

"Don't know," McCullough said. "I may have been a sinner, but I'm not a murderer."

McCullough hasn't been exonerated, but his conviction has been overturned. That means he could technically be retried, though it seems unlikely.
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« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2016, 01:03:14 PM »

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/seattle-man-wrongly-convicted-in-1957-childs-killing-goes-free/
Seattle man wrongly convicted in 1957 child’s killing goes free
Originally published April 16, 2016 at 7:30 pm

CHICAGO — A 76-year-old Seattle man who a prosecutor says was wrongly convicted in the 1957 killing of an Illinois schoolgirl is out of prison shortly after a judge vacated his conviction, meaning one of the oldest cold cases to be tried in U.S. history has officially gone cold again.

Jack McCullough was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the death of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in Sycamore, about 70 miles west of Chicago. In a review of documents last year, a prosecutor found evidence that supported the former policeman’s long-held alibi that he had been 40 miles away in Rockford at the time of Maria’s disappearance.

Judge William P. Brady said Friday that Maria’s abduction and slaying had haunted the small town of Sycamore for decades, and he had also lost sleep over the case.

“I’m not blind to the importance of this proceeding to many people,” he said, minutes before ordering McCullough’s release on Friday.
 

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack, who pushed hard for McCullough’s release, told Brady earlier that his office wouldn’t retry McCullough if a retrial was ordered. He said prosecutors were fully convinced of McCullough’s innocence.

Schmack, elected as state’s attorney as McCullough’s 2012 trial was coming to an end, filed a scathing report with the court last month. He had conducted a six-month review of evidence, including newly discovered phone records, and his report picked the case apart, point by point.

He said in an email that he was reviewing the judge’s ruling and would not be commenting Friday.

Maria’s brother, 70-year-old Charles Ridulph, said at the hearing that he would continue to push for a special prosecutor to take over the case. Brady will consider that motion April 22.

McCullough, who was living in the Seattle area when he was arrested, was released on a recognizance bond and isn’t allowed to leave Illinois until the state attorney announces a formal decision on a retrial.

Maria’s disappearance made headlines nationwide in the 1950s, when reports of child abductions were rare.

She had been playing outside in the snow with a friend on Dec. 3, 1957, when a young man approached, introduced himself as “Johnny” and offered them piggyback rides. Maria’s friend dashed home to grab mittens, and when she came back, Maria and the man were gone.

Forest hikers found her remains five months later.

At his trial four years ago, prosecutors said McCullough was the man who called himself Johnny in 1957, noting that he went by the name John Tessier in his youth. They said McCullough, then 18, dragged Maria away, choked and stabbed her to death.

McCullough has maintained his innocence throughout, saying he had “an ironclad alibi” that he had been in Rockford, attempting to enlist with the U.S. Air Force at a military recruiting station, on the night Maria disappeared.

New phone records, Schmack said, helped to prove McCullough had made a collect call to his parents at 6:57 p.m. from a phone booth in downtown Rockford, which is 40 miles northwest of where Maria was abducted between 6:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m.

Schmack reviewed police reports and hundreds of other documents, which he said had been improperly barred at trial and contained “a wealth of information pointing to McCullough’s innocence, and absolutely nothing showing guilt.”

He also noted that Maria’s friend had identified McCullough as the killer five decades later from an array of six photographs; McCullough’s picture stood out, partially because everyone but him wore suitcoats and their photos were professional yearbook photos.


McCullough, who was born in Belfast, Ireland, came to the U.S. with his mother in 1946 and settled in Sycamore, where he lived until he was 18, he said in a 2011 interview after his arrest. He said the town had the wholesome feel of the fictional town in the television show “Happy Days.” He served four years in the Air Force and 10 years in the Army, including a stint in Vietnam.

McCullough served as a police officer in Lacey and Milton, according to court documents. At the time of his 2011 arrest he was working as the night watchman at The Four Freedoms House of Seattle, a 300-unit retirement home in North Seattle, where he lived with his wife.
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« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2016, 01:20:27 PM »

http://q13fox.com/2016/04/18/no-longer-a-convicted-killer-freed-seattle-man-didnt-think-this-day-would-come/
No longer a convicted killer, freed Seattle man ‘didn’t think this day would come’
April 18, 2016

 

Justice is still unfolding for McCullough. Although he is free, he technically could stand trial once again. But State’s Attorney Richard Schmack, who is convinced McCullough is innocent, says he isn’t finished with this case.

Schmack told CNN he will move early next week to dismiss the murder charge with prejudice, meaning nobody can ever again bring McCullough into court and accuse him of murdering his 7-year-old neighbor, Maria Ridulph.

And so, everybody returns to court on Friday. After that, McCullough may finally be free to return home to Seattle, where his wife, Sue, has been waiting for him.

“I’ve got another week to go to sort out whatever legal matters are pending, and then I can go home to my wife and start my life over and do as much good in life as I’ve got left,” he said. “The next 10 years of my life are gonna be at 100 miles an hour because I’ve got a hell of a lot to do.”
 

A prosecution that ‘went off the rails’

Jack McCullough’s freedom didn’t come as the result of legal razzle-dazzle, although at the end he was represented by a trio of lawyers from a top Chicago law firm.

McCullough calls them his “rock-star lawyers.” But they were brought in late in the game to spiff up his own jailhouse lawyering.

He had exhausted all his appeals and didn’t have a lawyer when he filed a handwritten petition prepared by another inmate with paralegal training.

That was in June, and a judge in Sycamore tossed his petition out of court, calling it “frivolous” and “without merit.”

But it caught the attention of Harrolle and her boss, DeKalb Public Defender Tom McCulloch, who had represented McCullough at trial and believed he had been wrongfully convicted. Schmack, who knew he could eventually be tasked with defending the conviction, decided he’d better dig into the 4,500-page discovery file. It included old FBI, Illinois State Police and local and sheriff’s investigative reports from 1957 and 1958.

Schmack took them home and started looking through them in his spare time.

He’d attended the trial in 2012; he was in private practice and running against State’s Attorney Clay Campbell, who was personally prosecuting the case in court. Schmack told CNN he was troubled by how thin the evidence was.

McCullough, meanwhile, was undaunted. He filed a second handwritten petition on December 11. This time his former public defender joined in, saying that while the crafting of the do-it-yourself petition was “inartful,” some of the issues raised had “constitutional merit.” He asked the court to appoint a lawyer to help McCullough with his appeal. He even volunteered to do it himself.

The judge asked Schmack for a response to the petition. Schmack stunned everyone by filing a lengthy, heavily footnoted report that he said demonstrated “clear and convincing evidence” McCullough was innocent.

He attached exhibits supporting his footnotes — grand jury transcripts and some of the FBI reports that had been barred from McCullough’s trial.

As the appeal moved forward at the courthouse in Sycamore, it presented an ironic reverse scenario: An inmate’s handwritten petition had resulted in a prosecutor

admitting to nearly three dozen facts and allegations raised by the defendant.

“I was ordered to file an answer, and I could not file an answer that denied his claim of actual innocence when I actually believe he is not guilty of the crime he was convicted of,” Schmack explained.

“The only question was whether I filed something very brief and cryptic or something more extensive. So my feeling was the public has the right to know why I was doing what I was doing, and why I was not answering this in the conventional way.”

Chicago attorneys Gabe Fuentes and Shaun Van Horn, who work for a large, prestigious firm that seeks exoneration for wrongfully convicted defendants, agreed to represent McCullough through the rest of his appeal.

In court Friday, Fuentes — a former federal prosecutor — told Judge William Brady in no uncertain terms: “This was a prosecution that went off the rails. There are deep, deep problems with this case, which is why Mr. Schmack has come before this court with his report on those errors.”

He went further by stating that the trial court and the appeals court were misled about the evidence against McCullough. At the trial, only a vague time frame was offered for when the little girl was abducted from a Sycamore street corner near her home. And, he said, evidence clearly establishing McCullough’s whereabouts that evening was kept out of the trial.


That evidence supported the alibi McCullough had claimed all along.

Schmack cited an ethical code that became law in January. It lays on prosecutors a duty to undo wrongful convictions when they find them.

“Most people who are innocent and get exonerated in this country don’t get exonerated on appeal,” Schmack said Friday in court. “They get exonerated at proceedings like this. If the standard were that we can’t look beyond the rulings that were made on appeal, they’d never be exonerated.”
Brady, the judge, relied on three key items of evidence in throwing out McCullough’s conviction. Two were discovered after the trial, and the other had been barred by a faulty evidentiary ruling at the trial.

Freshly subpoenaed phone records place the pay phone used for a 6:57 p.m. collect call to McCullough’s parents at the post office in Rockford — just where he said he was at the time the girl was snatched on December 3, 1957. The records support McCullough’s alibi, which he was unable to present at his murder trial.

If McCullough was indeed 40 miles away from the crime scene, Brady said, it casts doubt on the testimony of Kathy Chapman, Maria’s playmate. She picked McCullough out of a photo lineup some 50 years after the fact, saying he was the man who called himself “Johnny” and offered the girls piggyback rides minutes before Maria was last seen.

Brady also found that the trial and appeals courts did not yet know about an inmate’s allegations that prosecutors offered him favorable treatment with his own case if he testified against McCullough.

“Those are matters that go to the heart of this prosecution,” Brady said. Each, by itself, may not have affected the outcome of the trial, he added, but when viewed “collectively” make it unlikely that McCullough would have been convicted.

There was no one in court Friday to speak for the people who investigated and prosecuted the case against McCullough.

Campbell, the former state’s attorney, and the Illinois State Police have declined repeated requests for comment.

The judge took pains to say on the record that he personally knows both Campbell and Schmack and doesn’t view the controversy over the case as politically motivated.

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  " Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."  - Daniel Moynihan
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