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Suspect Fights Extradition In Girl’s 1957 Murder

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Jack Daniel McCullough, accused in the 1957 murder of Sycamore girl Maria Ridulph. (Sycamore Police Dept.)

Jack Daniel McCullough, accused in the 1957 murder of Sycamore girl Maria Ridulph. (Sycamore Police Dept.)

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SYCAMORE, Ill. (CBS) — The Washington state man newly charged in the 1957 murder of a 7-year-old Sycamore girl is fighting extradition.

But as WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports, prosecutors expect him to be returned to DeKalb County for trial soon.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

On Tuesday, DeKalb County State’s Attorney Clay Campbell said he will personally prosecute Jack Daniel McCullough, 71, who is charged with the murder of Maria Ridulph.

The longtime former defense attorney says it will be the first time he has ever overseen a cold case murder trial.

He is confident in the case detectives have assembled, but says it he doesn’t expect a slam dunk for the prosecution.

“Clearly, in a case like that that’s that old, there’s going to be challenges,” Campbell said. “I would be disingenuous if I didn’t say prosecuting a murder that occurred in 1957 wasn’t going to be a challenge.”

Ridulph disappeared in December 1957 after accepting a piggyback ride from a young man named Johnny. Her body was found 144 days later near Galena.

McCullough, who went by the name John Tessier back then, was questioned about the crime back then, but he claimed he was in Chicago getting tested for the military. He then changed his name and disappeared.

Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Isaiah Vega said that, in 2008, state police got a fresh lead in the case, DNA evidence that ultimately led to McCullough, who was arrested earlier this month in the state of Washington, some 54 years after Maria disappeared.

McCullough, 71, has said he has an ironclad alibi for the murder, that he was headed to Chicago to undergo medical exams before joining the military. He’s being held in Seattle on $3 million bond while he fights extradition to Illinois.

But one of McCullough’s former girlfriends recently found an unused train ticket hidden behind a photograph he had given her, which authorities have said shatters the alibi.

Campbell declined to comment on those issues, but he said the murder changed Sycamore, and that the arrest shows police never really closed the unsolved murder case.

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