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Investigators praised in work on ’57 Sycamore kidnapping-murder case

Updated: October 22, 2012 6:18AM

SYCAMORE — Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau this week commended what he called outstanding investigative efforts by agency Zone 1 investigators and special agents in the 55-year-old cold case murder of Maria Ridulph of Sycamore.

Ridulph, 7, was kidnapped from in front of her home and murdered in 1957.

Last Friday, Kane County Associate Judge James Hallock found Jack McCullough, 72, guilty of murder, kidnapping and abduction of an infant.

A deathbed confession by McCullough’s mother in 1994 was passed on to Illinois State Police by McCullough’s half-sister in 2008. Police Capt. Tony Rapaz took the initial call that launched the ISP cold case murder investigation, according to an ISP press release.

“Every tip to law enforcement officers is taken seriously because you never know where the evidence may lead to,” Rapaz said in the release.

An investigation was launched, with Rapaz enlisting the resources of ISP Zone 1 investigators — Special Agent Brion Hanley, Senior Special Agent Todd Damasky, and Senior Criminal Intelligence Supervisor Larry Kot.

Families’ role

Hanley, the lead investigator, said the case was extraordinarily complicated with both families having to relive painful grief and horrible memories, according to the release.

“Without the cooperation of the families in their pursuit of justice and closure, our work as law enforcement would not (have been) possible,” Hanley said. “Their memories and solid, positive identification of photos, times and locations were just as powerful as the investigative leads that solved the case.”

“These investigators did an extraordinary job in developing a timeline with powerful statements from family members and community residents that presented the facts that eventually helped convict a murderer,” Grau said.

“Since 2008, they have tirelessly applied their investigative skills to this cold case by using good old-fashioned police work.”

Grau also underscored the importance of teamwork by DeKalb State’s Attorney Clay Campbell and his team of prosecutors, Seattle police, and the Ridulph and Tessier family members in seeking justice and closure. McCullough was living in Seattle when he was arrested in July 2011 on the charges.

The case is believed to be one of the oldest murder prosecutions ever attempted in the United States.

McCullough, now 72, is facing a possible life term when he is sentenced later this year.

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