A former Washington state policemen was sentenced to life in prison on Monday, Dec. 10. He was found guilty of the 1957 kidnapping and murder of a seven year-old girl.
In a case that had been cold for more than 55 years, the family of Maria Ridulph thought they’d never know what happened to their little girl. Now, they no longer have to wonder.
Jack McCullough a former Washington state police officer was found guilty last September for the murder of Maria Ridulph. The 73 year-old McCullough will spend what’s left of his life behind bars.
Little Maria Ridulph was playing in her front year with her friend Kathy Chapman. In 1957 in Sycamore, Illinois, the residents couldn’t have imagined what happened next happening in their small town.
McCullough then 17, walked up to the little girls and joined in on their games. Maria’s friend Kathy ran home to get a pair of mittens and when she returned, both McCullough and Ridulph were gone.
Police detectives found that McCullough dragged Ridulph into an alley behind her home and choked her with a wire. He then stabbed her in the throat and chest and shoved her body into his car.
McCullough drove over a 100 miles with the dead little girl in his car. When he reached a heavily wooded area, he disposed of her body there.
Prosecutor Victor Escarcida spoke to the crowded courtroom about the damage done by the murder to the small town. “Jack McCullough made Sycamore a scary place. Now there was a true boogeyman living among them. He is the definition of evil. He left a lifetime of emotional wreckage in his wake.”
After the murder, McCullough moved to Seattle and ultimately joined the police department there. It was his own family who provided the much needed evidence to take him to trial.
On her deathbed in 1994, McCullough’s mother confessed to his sister Janet Tessier that she had lied to the police when they asked her where he son was at the time of the murder. Janet then contacted the authorities and advised them of her mother’s admission.
The police department launched a new investigation based on Janet Tessier’s information. Kathy Chapman was able to positively identify the teenager who played with them that day was McCullough. At McCullough’s trial he had long been known as John Tessier, Chapman, 63 however was still able to tell the jury that he was the one.
McCullough has maintained his innocence, claiming “I did not, did not, kill Maria Ridulph. It was a crime I did not, would not, could not have done.”
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