Saturday, August 6, 2011

Child-Murder Arrest After 53 Years

Maria Ridulph's abduction shattered America's sleepy, suburban 1950s fairy tale. Winston Ross on the incredible story of how the alleged killer—18 then, 71 now—was finally caught.

The last time anybody saw 7-year-old Maria Ridulph alive, she was just outside her home, near the corner of Archie Place and Center Cross in the small town of Sycamore, Ill., 50 miles west of Chicago. It was December, and she was playing with a friend, Cathy Sigman, enjoying the first snowfall of the year, when a young white male in a multicolored sweater approached them and introduced himself as "Johnny.”

Johnny asked the girls if they wanted a piggyback ride. Maria agreed, and he hoisted her onto his back and tromped up and down the sidewalk. Then he asked if they had any dolls. Maria said she did, and ran back to her house to find one. While she was gone, Johnny touched Cathy on the arm and thigh and told her she was pretty, the 8-year-old later told police. Maria came back with the doll, and Cathy went home to get her mittens. But when she returned, Maria and Johnny were gone. 
That was 53 years ago. 
Now he has been, say authorities in Illinois. Thanks to an unused train ticket that slipped out of a picture frame, on June 29 police in Seattle picked up a former cop and self-styled "modeling agent" with a keen interest in young girls. The man, Jack Daniel McCullough, has been extradited to Illinois to face murder charges that are more than half a century old.
"It changed my life forever," said Cathy Sigman, now Cathy Chapman, who lives in St. Charles, in an interview with The Daily Chronicle of DeKalb County, Ill. "My childhood was never the same since."
The search for Maria Ridulph and the man in the multicolored sweater became a nationwide obsession. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and President Eisenhower demanded daily updates. The girl's skeleton turned up four months later, found by mushroom hunters, but her killer was never caught. 
 Read the Daily Beast for the rest of the story

No comments: