Maria Ridulph

Lifetime Movie Network

A northern Illinois cold case is the subject of a new documentary on Lifetime Movie Network.

“Footsteps in the Snow” premieres Wednesday. It chronicles the time from Maria Ridulph’s kidnapping and murder in 1957 through the conviction of Jack D. McCullough 55 years later.

Ridulph disappeared from the street corner near her home. That incident triggered a search by numerous police agencies, and reports said that President Dwight Eisenhower asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation for daily updates.

Brief Filed In McCullough Appeal Claims Unfair Trial

Apr 22, 2014
Credit file / DeKalb County Sheriff's Department

Jack McCullough is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping and murder of Maria Ridulph in 1957. It was one the nation's oldest cold cases. A recently filed appellate brief calls into question evidence presented at McCullough's 2012 trial in DeKalb County.

Assistant Deputy Defender Paul Glaser submitted that prosecutors used unreliable evidence, which included personal memories from decades ago, inmate witnesses, and a statement from McCullough's mother just before her death while on painkillers.

The brief says "the law demands more than nostalgia."

file / DeKalb County Sheriff's Department

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. 

McCullough Sentenced to Life in Prison

Dec 10, 2012
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Jack McCullough was sentenced to life  in prison Monday morning for the murder of Maria Ridulph. The 73-year-old McCullough was convicted earlier this year in a DeKalb County bench trial. He was arrested in 2011 after authorities re-opened the investigation into the 1957 kidnapping and slaying.

file / DeKalb County Sheriff's Department

Sentencing for Jack McCullough has been moved to early December. The sentencing was supposed to be today, but a lawyer representing McCullough says the defense was not given enough time to prepare.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

UPDATE: Friday, November 30, 2012 11:10 am

McCullough's sentencing has been rescheduled for Monday, December 10th, at 10:00 am.

Sentencing for convicted killer Jack McCullough has been postponed. The former Sycamore resident was to be sentenced Friday morning at 11:00 for the 1957 kidnapping and murder of seven-year-old Maria Ridulph.

McCullough Wants New Trial

Oct 17, 2012

Attorneys for Jack McCullough have filed a motion seeking a new trial or not guilty verdict.  McCullough is awaiting sentencing for the murder and kidnapping of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph back in 1957.

Convicted Killer Faces Decision About Appeal

Sep 17, 2012

Jack Daniel McCullough is back in his cell at the DeKalb County Jail, weighing his options for filing an appeal of his conviction on charges related to the disappearance of little Maria Ridulph on Dec. 3, 1957.

He has 30 days to make that decision, with a sentencing hearing scheduled at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 30.

In April, McCullough waived his right to a jury trial, opting instead for a bench trial on charges of murder, kidnapping, and abduction of an infant – defined in Illinois law at the time as a person younger than 12 years old.

"Maria's got her justice."

Jack McCullough heard his guilty verdict Friday in a packed courtroom on the third floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse, less than 10 blocks from where he snatched Maria Ridulph on the snowy evening of Dec. 3, 1957.

Known in those days as John Tessier, the 72-year-old convicted kidnapper and murderer sat through five days of a bench trial before Judge James Hallock and heard a parade of prosecution witnesses detail circumstantial evidence that tied him to the seven-year-old girl’s disappearance from the corner of Archie Place and Center Cross Street in Sycamore.

Two inmates and a forensic anthropologist testified Wednesday in the murder-kidnap trial of Jack Daniel McCullough, accused in the disappearance and death of little Maria Ridulph in Sycamore nearly 55 years ago.

The inmates told slightly different – but not necessarily contradictory – stories of McCullough’s jailhouse conversations about his case, and the scientist explained how she found evidence of deep cutting wounds on the skelton of the 7-year-old victim.