Guilty! Judge convicts man of 1957 Sycamore killing - – Rockford’s News Leader

Guilty! Judge convicts man of 1957 Sycamore killing

Clay Campbell, DeKalb County State's Attorney. Clay Campbell, DeKalb County State's Attorney.
Jack McCullough Jack McCullough
Janet Tessier, McCullough's sister. Janet Tessier, McCullough's sister.

Justice comes a half century after a little Sycamore girl was kidnapped and murdered.  A judge found Jack McCullough guilty of killing Maria Ridulph in 1957. 

As the verdict was read the standing room only courtroom erupted into cheers and shouts.  McCullough, who used to go by the name John Mc was convicted of murder, kidnapping and abduction of an infant, which in 1957 meant anyone under the age of 12. 

Maria Ridulph was seven years old when she was taken from her Sycamore street.  Her body was found a few months later in Jo Daviess County.  Her killer was never caught.  The case had gone cold until Janet Tessier came forward to tell police her mother, on her death bed, told Janet her brother was the killer. 

"I'm so sorry to the Ridulph's that it took so long and I apologize on behalf of my mother that this took so long," says Janet Tessier.

The case against Jack McCullough was all circumstantial, no murder weapon, no DNA, no confession.  But there was a witness.  Maria's friend Kathy Chapman was the last person to see her that night.  The eight year old left Maria standing with a man named Johnny while she ran to get her mittens.  The judge said the fact Chapman picked McCullough out of a photo lineup 50 years later was the most convincing piece of evidence.

"I never stopped looking for Johnny's face.  I never stopped looking for his face.  I did what anybody what anybody would have done but I did what I did for Maria because I had found Johnny," says Chapman.

Although grateful for the guilty verdict, Maria Ridulph's brother is not celebrating.  Instead he is still focused on what his family and Maria lost.

"We had two photo boards depicting her short life. This young girl snatched away at seven years old so I can see no victory in any of this," says Charles Ridulph.

After the verdict the judge revoked McCullough's bond. He is in DeKalb County Jail awaiting sentencing.

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