Man wrongly convicted in one thousand nine hundred fifty-seventh IL murder is released

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 5:42 AM

S. history has officially gone freezing again. Jack McCullough was sentenced to life in prison in two thousand-twelfth in the death of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in Sycamore, about seventy miles W of Chicago.

Man wrongly convicted in one thousand nine hundred fifty-seventh IL murder is released

A 76-year-old man who a prosecutor says was wrongly convicted in the one thousand nine hundred fifty-seven killing of an IL schoolgirl was released Friday shortly after a judge vacated his conviction, meaning one of the oldest freezing cases to be tried in U. S. history has officially gone cold again.

Jack McCullough was sentenced to life in prison in two thousand-twelfth in the death of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in Sycamore, about seventy miles W of Chicago. In a review of documents latest year, a prosecutor found proof that supported the former policeman'south long-held alibi that he'd been forty miles far in Rockford at the time of Maria'south disappearance.

Judge William P. Brady said Friday that Maria'south abduction and slaying had haunted the tiny town of Sycamore for decades, and that he'd also lost sleep over the case.

"I'm not blind to the importance of this proceeding to many people," he said, minutes before ordering McCullough'south release.

McCullough, in handcuffs, appeared shaken by the decision, rocking back and forth, then taking a deep breath. Family members behind him hugged and cried. Moments later, McCullough, of WA state, looked back, winked and smiled broadly.

On the other side of the room, Maria'south brother and sister displayed little emotion.

Hours later, McCullough'south stepdaughter, Janey O'Connor, drove him from a jail close the courthouse. McCullough, wearing Str clothes, grinned at reporters from the back seat. His request for a first snack out of prison, she said in a phone interview later, was for pepperoni pizza.

O'Connor said she'd been convinced of her stepfather'south innocence from the start.

"Jack was just a normal person doing his grandpa thing, and this happened to him," she said.

She said he told her he'south looking forward to shopping for his children and grandchildren, because he's "a lot of birthdays and Christmases to capture up on." She said he's been studying Japanese while in prison and wants to travel to Japan.

DeKalb County State'south Attorney Richard Schmack, who pushed tough for McCullough's release, told Brady earlier that his office wouldn't retry McCullough if a retrial was ordered. He said prosecutors were fully convinced of McCullough'south innocence.

Schmack, elected as state'south attorney as McCullough's two thousand twelve trial was coming to an end, filed a scathing report with the Ct latest month. He'd conducted a six-month review of evidence, including newly discovered phone records, and his report picked the case apart, point by point.

He said in an email that he was reviewing the judge'south ruling and wouldn't be commenting Friday.

Maria'south brother, 70-year-old Charles Ridulph, said at the hearing that he'd continue to thrust for a special prosecutor to get over the case. Brady will consider that motion April 22.

McCullough, who was living in the Seattle area when he was arrested, was released on a recognizance bond and isn't allowed to leave IL until the state attorney announces a formal decision on a retrial.

Maria's disappearance made headlines nationwide in the one thousand nine hundred fifty, when reports of baby abductions were rare.

She'd been playing exterior in the snow with a companion on Dec. three, one thousand nine hundred fifty-seven, when a youthful man approached, introduced himself as "Johnny" and offered them piggyback rides. Maria'south companion dashed residence to grab mittens, and when she came back, Maria and the man were gone.

Forest hikers found her remains five months later.

At his trial four years ago, prosecutors said McCullough was the man who called himself Johnny in one thousand nine hundred fifty-seventh, noting that he went by the title John Tessier in his youth. They said McCullough, then eighteen, dragged Maria away, choked and stabbed her to death.

McCullough has maintained his innocence throughout, saying he'd "an iron-clad alibi" that he'd been in Rockford, attempting to enlist with the U. S. Air Force at a military recruiting station, on the night Maria disappeared.

New phone records, Schmack said, helped to prove McCullough had made a gather call to his parents at 6:57 p. m. from a phone booth in downtown Rockford, which is forty miles northwest of where Maria was abducted between 6:45 p. m. and 6:55 p. m.

Schmack reviewed police reports and hundreds of other documents, which he said had been improperly barred at trial and contained "a wealth of information pointing to McCullough's innocence, and absolutely nothing showing guilt."

He also well-known that Maria'south companion had identified McCullough as the killer five decades later from an array of six photographs; McCullough'south picture stood out, partially because everyone but him wore suitcoats and their photos were professional yearbook photos.

McCullough, who was born in Belfast, Ireland, came to the U. S. with his mother in one thousand nine hundred forty-sixth and settled in Sycamore, where he lived until he was eighteen, he said in a two thousand eleven interview after his arrest. He said the town had the wholesome perceive of the fictional town in the television indicate "Happy Days." He served four years in the Air Force and ten years in the Army, including a stint in Vietnam.

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