Ex-Cop Gets Life for 1957 Murder

Slaying of 7-year-old girl is oldest cold case to result in conviction

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 11, 2012 2:07 AM CST

(Newser) – A former policeman from Washington state has been given a life sentence for kidnapping and murdering a little girl 55 years ago. In what is believed to be the oldest cold case ever to go to trial and get a conviction, Jack McCullough was found guilty of murdering 7-year-old neighbor Maria Ridulph in Illinois in 1957, when he was 17, CNN reports. McCullough, formerly known as John Tessier, was questioned at the time but he and his parents said he was miles away taking his Air Force physical when the girl disappeared.

The case was cold for many years but in 2008, McCullough's youngest sister informed police that her dying mother had told her, "John did it. John did it, and you have to tell someone." An old train ticket helped investigators build a case against McCullough, who maintained his innocence. At the sentencing hearing yesterday, he claimed he had been framed by corrupt police and prosecutors. After the hearing, Ridulph's brother and sister told reporters they were glad Maria had finally received justice.

This image from the 1957 Sycamore (Ill.) High School yearbook shows John Tessier, now known as Jack Daniel McCullough.
This image from the 1957 Sycamore (Ill.) High School yearbook shows John Tessier, now known as Jack Daniel McCullough.   (AP Photo/Sycamore High School Yearbook)
This July 27, 2011 booking photo provided by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in Sycamore, Ill, shows Jack Daniel McCullough.
This July 27, 2011 booking photo provided by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in Sycamore, Ill, shows Jack Daniel McCullough.   (AP Photo/DeKalb County Sheriff's Department)
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