Seattle Man Charged In 1957 Murder Of 7-Year-Old Maria Ridulph: Train Ticket Helps Crack Case.
SEATTLE — An unused, unstamped train ticket helped lead to charges against a Seattle man in the abduction and killing of a 7-year-old Illinois girl in 1957.
Prosecutors in northern Illinois’ DeKalb County charged Jack Daniel McCullough, 71, on Friday with murdering Maria Ridulph, who 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.
McCullough claimed he took the train from Rockford, Ill., to Chicago the day of the abduction. But The Seattle Times, citing a probable-cause statement filed in court, reported Saturday that a woman who dated McCullough at the time found, while searching through personal items last year at the request of investigators, an unused, unstamped train ticket from Rockford to Chicago dated the day the girl went missing.
It’s unclear whether McCullough has an attorney. He remains jailed in Seattle on $3 million bond and was scheduled for a court appearance there Saturday.
McCullough’s arrest drew elation from Kathy Chapman, the 8-year-old girl Maria played with the night she vanished. Now a grandmother, Chapman told the Chicago Tribune that last year investigators showed her a photo of McCullough as a teenager in a photo lineup, and Chapman identified him as a young man from her Sycamore neighborhood who offered a piggyback ride to her and Maria as the two girls played under a corner streetlight. She knew him as “Johnny.”
Chapman, who lives near Chicago in St. Charles, Ill., said she ran home and never saw Maria again.
McCullough’s arrest “puts a lot of things to rest now. I’m so happy for the family,” Chapman told the Tribune. “And nobody gave up on it. That’s the good thing about it.”
The search for Maria in December 1957 grew to involve more than 1,000 law enforcers and numerous other community members, ultimately catching the attention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who requested daily updates, DeKalb County State’s Attorney Clay Campbell said in a written statement Friday.
Two people foraging for mushrooms in Jo Davies County, in Illinois’ northwest corner, found the girl’s remains on April 26, 1958.