CHICAGO - More than 50 years after a 7-year-old girl was abducted and killed, authorities exhumed her body early yesterday as they try to put together their criminal case against a former neighbor, now 71.
Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said members of the State Police, FBI, Sycamore police, DeKalb state’s attorney’s office, and county coroner’s office were at the Elmwood Cemetery in Sycamore to exhume Maria Ridulph’s remains.
Authorities announced weeks ago that they had arrested Jack Daniel McCullough in Seattle and charged him with the 1957 slaying of the girl, who was abducted by a man as she played outside her home in Sycamore.
McCullough, a onetime resident of Sycamore, waived his right to extradition earlier this month and is scheduled to be returned to Illinois to face a murder charge. He has denied any involvement in the slaying.
DeKalb County State’s Attorney Clay Campbell told the area’s Daily Chronicle that his office had the blessing of the Ridulph family to exhume the remains, and the process began early yesterday.
“We are investigating the murder of a 7-year-old child,’’ Campbell told the newspaper. “Suffice it to say, we’ll leave no stone unturned.’’
Authorities have not said what they hope to find, but one cold case specialist said a body that has been in a casket for more than 50 years can still reveal evidence crucial to prosecutors.
“You have to be able to show it’s a criminal homicide and you have to establish the identity of the victim,’’ said Richard Walton, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Utah State University.