CHICAGO (CBS) — An elderly man from Minnesota has been arrested and charged with the murder of a 15-year-old girl nearly 50 years ago in Naperville.

Police in Mounds View, Minnesota, arrested 76-year-old Barry Lee Whelpley on Wednesday in the 1972 murder of 15-year-old Julie Ann Hanson, who was reported missing on July 8, 1972. Naperville police announced the arrest Friday morning.

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Julie Ann Hanson, 15, was reported missing on July 8, 1972. She was found stabbed to death later the same day, in a field in Naperville. (Credit: Naperville Police)

 

Her body was found later the same day in a field near 87th Street and Modaff Road in Naperville, along with the bicycle she had been riding to her brother’s baseball game. Police said she had been stabbed multiple times.

No suspect was identified in the case until a breakthrough in DNA analysis recently tied Whelpley to the murder, according to police.

A Naperville detective attended a convention of coroners and medical examiners in Las Vegas in 2019, and met DNA expert Colleen Fitzpatrick. They discussed the DNA evidence in the case.

“It was degraded, it was low-level, it was contaminated with bacteria,” Fitzpatrick said.

Measured at a trillionth of a gram, her team at Identifiers International was hired to extract data from the DNA sample.

“The technology has become more sophisticated. The ability to handle very degraded samples has advanced,” Fitzpatrick said.

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With that in hand, they ran it against an ever-growing database of genealogy results; data volunteered by customers from places like 23andMe

“Some people, many people, often, people take their data and put it on GEDmatch, a fraction of the people,” Fitzpatrick said.

Among that fraction were relatives of Whelpley, a retired welder most recently living north of Minneapolis. In the early 1970s, he lived in Naperville, just blocks from the Hanson family.

“His DNA is in that database. So we are obviously continuing that investigation to see if he’s responsible for any other crimes,” Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said.

Whelpley, who was 27 at the time of the murder, used to live within a mile of the Hanson family home, police said.

He was arrested in Minnesota and is awaiting extradition to Illinois to face three counts of first-degree murder. His bond has been set at $10 million.

“This is something I never expected to be standing here talking to you today. Julie Ann Hanson, 1972, that’s an outlier at that point,” Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said.

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DuPage County court records show a 1983 case against Whelpley involving violation of an order of protection, but details on that case were not immediately available.

Barry Lee Whelpley is charged with first-degree murder in the 1972 stabbing death of Julie Ann Hanson in Naperville. (Credit: Naperville Police)

CBS 2 Chicago Staff