Murder trial underway for 1957 Sycamore death - – Rockford’s News Leader

Murder trial underway for 1957 Sycamore death

Jack McCullough Jack McCullough
Charles Ridulph Charles Ridulph
Ridulph house in 1957, Ridulph house in 1957,

The man accused in of killing a Sycamore girl more than half century goes to trial. The family of Maria Ridulph hopes to finally get some justice.

It was an emotional start to the Jack McCullough murder trail as the victim's brother took the stand. Charles Ridulph was only 11 when his sister Maria was kidnapped and later found murdered. He took the court back to the December 3rd day in 1957 when his sister's friend came back to their house saying she couldn't find Maria. Charles Ridulph says police squads drove around town telling people with loud speakers there was a girl missing.  Women and children locked themselves in homes as he said at least a hundred men gathered searching the neighborhood. 

By the next day there were even more high school students were let out of class, boy scout troops came to help and the FBI pretty much lived at their home.

"I remember a man from the FBI came and searched the house and even the crawl space under it," says Bernice Maness.

Maness went to church with the Ridulph family and had been new to town when their daughter disappeared.

"One of the first services we attended the pastor going, kneeling and begging the child to bring that child back," says Maness.

The last time anyone saw 7-year-old Maria was at the end of her street with a man named Johnny who had offered her a piggy back ride. Prosecutors say that man was Jack McCullough who went by the name John Tessier.  In opening statements they say he stabbed her at least three times through the throat and neck and left her nearly naked body in a Jo Daviess county where it was discovered in the spring of 1958.

McCullough plead not guilty to the charges against him. He had faced a rape charge on a separate case earlier this year. He was found not guilty.

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