7-year-old Illinois girl Maria Ridulph was abducted and killed in 1957.
Is there finally a break in the case?
She was last seen playing with a friend near her home in Sycamore, about 50 miles west of Chicago. Mushroom hunters found Maria’s remains five months later in a wooded area about 100 miles from her hometown.
Now a former police officer 71 rear old John Tessier, now believed to be known as Jack Daniel McCullough has been arrested in the 1957 murder of an Illinois girl. But he says he has an “iron-clad alibi” and had nothing to do with her disappearance or death.
In the early 1980s, McCullough lost his job with the Milton police department in Washington state after he was accused of sexually abusing a runaway in her early teens. He pleaded guilty in 1983 to unlawfully communicating with a minor.
The 71-year-old was arrested in Seattle last week after investigators said new evidence undermined that alibi. A police affidavit says his high school girlfriend recently discovered his train ticket to Chicago, but it was unused.Jack Daniel McCullough told The Associated Press in a jailhouse interview Thursday night that he wants justice to be done for 7-year-old Maria Ridulph. He says that he had traveled to Chicago for military medical exams that day – as he has always maintained.
McCullough tells the AP there’s a good reason it was unused – he never used it. He says his stepfather gave him a ride, and that archived military records from that day should exonerate him.
However military records a former police officer insists would help exonerate him burned in a 1973 archives fire that destroyed millions of military personnel records.
Suspect is being held in the King County Jail on a fugitive charge pending efforts to extradite him back to Illinois.
At a news conference Tuesday a short walk from where Ridulph disappeared 54 years ago, DeKalb County State’s Attorney Clay Campbell repeatedly declined to offer details about the case. He said McCullough could be extradited to Illinois within weeks, though a trial could be months away.
`This is a very, very cold case,” Campbell said. “I am well aware of the precarious nature of prosecuting a case you cannot prove, but we are confident that Mr. McCullough killed Maria Ridulph.”