New Twist in Cold Case That Was 'Solved,' Then Unsolved

Investigation that resulted in now-vacated conviction is itself being investigated
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2017 3:06 PM CST
Updated Feb 11, 2017 10:40 AM CST
New Twist in Cold Case That Was 'Solved,' Then Unsolved
The grave site of Maria Ridulph at Elmwood Cemetery is shown in Sycamore, Ill., on Saturday, July 2, 2011.   (AP Photo/ Barbara Rodriguez)

In 1957, Illinois 7-year-old Maria Ridulph was abducted and murdered. In 2011, a suspect was arrested and convicted the following year. Then, in 2016, he was set free after a prosecutor and a judge determined he could not have committed the crime. Now, the investigation into that man, Jack Daniel McCullough, is itself under investigation, reports the Daily Chronicle. While testifying against McCullough in 2012, Seattle detective Irene Lau said that when questioned about Ridulph—who had been McCullough's neighbor in 1957, before he moved to Seattle—McCullough answered as if he were "deeply, deeply in love" with the little girl, calling her "stunningly beautiful" and "lovely, lovely, lovely," per CNN. A special prosecutor has now been appointed to investigate whether she committed perjury when she said that.

The inquiry will focus on Lau and on how the state's attorney handled evidence and witnesses, but it could expand to address other allegations, such as whether police and prosecutors purposely hid a 78-minute video of McCullough's questioning. In her report summarizing the questioning, which includes the "lovely, lovely, lovely" line and others that later appeared in her testimony, Lau wrote that the conversation was recorded, but a year later, an Illinois prosecutor appeared to say that it had not been recorded. No recording was turned over to McCullough's defense team, as is required if a tape exists. But a recording has since been discovered; in it, McCullough is never heard to utter the "lovely, lovely, lovely" line. He also denied killing her, saying, "I loved that little girl, like the whole neighborhood loved that little girl." (The family of a girl murdered in 1984 is hoping for justice at last.)

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