Death of Maria Ridulph

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Maria Ridulph
BornMaria Elizabeth Ridulph
March 12, 1950
Died

December 3, 1957 (aged 7)

Sycamore DeKalb Country, Illinois, U.S.A.
 
  (Redirected from Jack McCullough)
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Maria Ridulph
BornMaria Elizabeth Ridulph
March 12, 1950
Died

December 3, 1957 (aged 7)

Sycamore DeKalb Country, Illinois, U.S.A.

Maria Ridulph was kidnapped on a street corner in Sycamore, Illinois, on December 3, 1957. She was 7 years old at the time.[1] Her body was discovered in a field 5 months later.[1] The case went cold for 55 years until Jack McCullough, formerly John Tessier, was arrested in July 2011.[1] It is believed that the case involved the oldest unsolved murder resulting in an arrest in the United States.[1]

Background[edit]

McCullough, then John Tessier,[2] befriended Ridulph in Sycamore, Illinois when she was 7 years old.[1] She disappeared from a street corner in Sycamore on December 3, 1957. According to the prosecutors in his case, McCullough choked Ridulph with a wire and stabbed her.[1] The case received nation-wide interest; the FBI was involved under J. Edgar Hoover[1] and it reportedly received attention from Dwight D. Eisenhower.[2]

The case was reopened when Janet Tessier, McCullough's half sister, believing McCullough was involved, asked the Illinois State Police to look into it.[2] Janet Tessier made the decision to come to the police after spending time as the caretaker to the mother of author Mark Lemberger, who wrote "Crimes of Magnitude," a story of an unsolved murder of a seven-year-old girl. Mark Lemberger, upon hearing her speak of her mother's deathbed confession, encouraged Tessier to try to contact a law enforcement agency one more time. Tessier did just that, contacting the Illinois State Police via e-mail.[3] McCullough was arrested in a retirement community in Seattle where he lived and worked as a security guard in July 2011.[1][2][4] Ridulph's body was exhumed that same month.[4]

Trial[edit]

At the trial, Kathy Sigman, a childhood friend who was with Ridulph on the day of her disappearance, testified against McCullough.[2] She said that a man, who called himself Johnny, had walked up to them and had given Ridulph a piggyback ride.[2] Sigman went home briefly to get mittens, and upon her return both Johnny and Maria were gone.[2] Based on a 1957 photo, she identified McCullough as the man who had walked up to them.[2] McCullough was convicted of the crime in September 2012 and later received a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 20 years.[1] He was 73 at the time he received his sentence.[1] Although his request for a new trial was denied at the time of sentencing, his appeal continues, as of 2013.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Goode, Erica (December 10, 2012). "55 Years After Girl’s Death, Her Killer Gets a Life Term". New York Times. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Ward, Clifford (December 11, 2012). "Defiant ex-cop gets life for girl's 1957 murder". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Moe, Doug (21 September 2012). "Tragedy leads to answers for family". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Body of girl killed in 1957 exhumed". Telegraph Herald. July 28, 2011. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Timeline". CNN. August 2013. Retrieved 12 August2013. 

External links[edit]