SPRINGFIELD, IL. (IRN) - The trial for a man accused of a 1957 murder is set to begin today in DeKalb County.
Jack McCullough is accused of the kidnapping and murder of Maria Ridulph in December of 1957. The body of the 7-year-old Sycamore girl was found near Galena several months later.
McCullough, 72, had been a suspect in 1957, but his alibi at the time was that he had been in Chicago for a military physical around the time of Ridulph’s disappearance. Investigators have since discredited that claim after an unused train ticket was discovered. McCullough has said that he never used the ticket because his stepfather ended up giving him the ride to Chicago.
Military records that would show McCullough’s whereabouts were destroyed in a 1973 fire. The earliest date the U.S. Air Force has McCullough entering service was eight days after Ridulph disappeared.
Steven Beckett, a professor of law at the University of Illinois, says someone must confirm that in court.
“Someone would have to come forward and say that,” Beckett said.
Beckett says that’s the problem with cases that are decades old. Records and witnesses disappear.
“Who in the world actually knows what happened?” Beckett said.
A judge recently barred the use of evidence that McCullough’s lawyer claims would show his whereabouts, including FBI reports from that era stating that McCullough was not in Sycamore when the crime happened.
Earlier this year, McCullough was acquitted on charges that he sexually assaulted his sister in 1962.
He was living in Seattle at the time of his arrest. Prosecutors expect the bench trial to last a week.