$3M bond for 1957 murder suspect

July 28, 2011 4:52:31 PM PDT
A man accused of killing a young Sycamore girl more than 50 years ago appeared in a DeKalb County courtroom via video on Thursday.

Jack McCullough, 71, was arraigned Thursday morning. The former Sycamore resident was arrested and charged with the kidnapping and murder of Maria Ridulph, 7, earlier this month. McCullough, who now lives in Washington State, was extradited to Illinois on Wednesday morning. He is being held on $3 million bond.

McCollugh is being held in DeKalb County Jail, which is across the street from the courthouse. While in jail, he appeared on a video screen in the courtroom wearing an orange jail jump suit. McCullough told the judge via video Thursday that he understands the charges against him. He was appointed a public defender.

McCullough has previously denied any involvement in the kidnapping and murder.

Ridulph's body was found five months after she disappeared from her Sycamore home. The girl's body was exhumed Wednesday from the Elmwood Cemetery in Sycamore after officials consulted her family.

"Although the events are very difficult and very unsettling, we understand the necessity for these things, and we are in complete agreement and thankful for the way this case is being handled," said the victm's brother Charles Ridulph.

Investigators say they hope more than half a century of scientific advances -- including DNA -- will yield clues and pinpoint a cause of death in the case. Ridulph's death was listed as "foul play" in 1958 after her remains were found.

Prosecutors say they believe they have a good case against McCullough, who lived near the victim when she disappeared. They say credible leads moved them to push forward in the case in 2008 but they won't be specific about those leads yet.

"My main feeling today was a sense of accomplishment, that so many players worked together in a couple of different states, so many law enforcement agencies, so many witnesses were interviewed. And, again, this is an effort that goes back 50 years," said DeKalb County State's Attorney Clay Campbell.

A former cop, McCullough could face the death penalty in this case based on the laws in 1957 but the death penalty is no longer legal in the state of Illinois.

McCullough did not enter a plea Thursday. He's due back in court in August.

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