The man serving a life sentence for the 1957 murder of a Sycamore girl maintains his innocence and says he’s working on his appeal.
Jack McCullough was convicted last September of the kidnapping and killing of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph. The 73-year-old former police officer spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times at the Pontiac Correctional Center, the maximum security prison where he is serving a life sentence. In the interview, he says he “has hope for success” with an appeal of his conviction. He also told the Sun-Times he spends his time in prison exercising and studying Mandarin, so he can visit China some day.
Ridulph disappeared from her Sycamore neighborhood in December of 1957: her body was found months later in woods in Jo Daviess County, about 100 miles northwest of her home. The case captured the nation’s attention at the time, but eventually faded into the Cold Case realm, with few leads, no major suspects, and the passage of time and possible witnesses.
However, the case was reopened and McCullough was arrested in 2011. McCullough, whose name was John Tessier at the time of the murder, had been interviewed by the FBI shortly after Ridulph’s disappearance. The 17-year-old was released and not considered a suspect until one of his sisters asked that the case be reopened because of their mother’s deathbed statements on the case.
Just this week, CNN Digital released a five-part multi-media study of the case called “Taken: the Coldest Case Ever Solved.” It’s featured all this week on CNN.com.