Defendant must disclose ’57 alibi in Sycamore girl’s slaying
The Associated Press August 20, 2012 10:18AM
Jack Daniel McCullough
Updated: September 22, 2012 6:16AM
SYCAMORE — A Washington state man charged in the slaying of an Illinois girl more than 50 years ago must disclose his alibi at a hearing Tuesday, a judge said.
Jack McCullough, 72, is charged in the 1957 kidnapping and death of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph, a former neighbor in Sycamore. But he has maintained that he has an alibi for the day she disappeared and pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors filed a motion seeking information on McCullough’s claims.
Defense attorney Tom McCulloch told a judge last week that he needed more specific information on the date, time and place of the slaying so he could better respond to the state’s request.
Prosecutor Victor Escarcida has said the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office has provided enough information for the defense to prepare for trial, and he says prosecutors don’t have to offer a specific date for the murder because there is no statute of limitations. McCulloch says the date of Maria’s death is critical to his client’s alibi.
Maria was abducted from her neighborhood on Dec. 3, 1957, and her remains were found the following April in rural Jo Daviess County.
Kane County Associate Judge James Hallock ordered McCullough’s attorneys to disclose information about the alibi on Tuesday but also said prosecutors must give the defense more information, according to media reports.
Maria’s abduction in December 1957 made national headlines, with President Dwight Eisenhower and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover reportedly asking for daily updates on the investigation. Thousands of people joined in the search for the girl and fearful parents in Sycamore kept their children locked indoors for months. Maria’s body was found a few months later about 120 miles from her home.
McCullough, who was named John Tessier and lived in Sycamore at the time of Maria’s disappearance, matched the suspect’s description but he had an alibi. It was the same one he gave during a 2011 jailhouse interview with The Associated Press — that he could not have abducted the girl because he had traveled to Chicago that day for military medical exams before enlisting in the Air Force.
McCullough became the focus of the investigation again last year when a high school girlfriend of his discovered an unused train ticket to Chicago behind a framed photograph.
He was arrested in July 2011 in Seattle and returned to Illinois to face charges; a grand jury indicted him on charges of murder, kidnapping and abduction of an infant a month later.
The girl’s remains were exhumed from a Sycamore cemetery as prosecutors searched for DNA evidence; they recently were returned to her family and reburied.
McCullough is being held in the DeKalb County Jail on $3 million bond.