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McCullough's alibi in 1957 murder

The man accused of kidnapping and murdering a Sycamore girl more than half a century ago has an alibi, which was officially filed in court Tuesday. 

Attorneys for Jack McCullough submitted the information about where he was December 2nd through 4th, 1957.  Seven-year-old Maria Ridulph was abducted from her Sycamore neighborhood December 3rd of that year. McCullough says he was visiting military recruiters in Chicago and Rockford during that time. McCullough’s attorneys provided witness statements about his whereabouts that were given to authorities in 1957…but also objected because all of the witnesses have died or are otherwise unavailable.

The witnesses quoted in Tuesday’s filing are:

  • Staff Sergeant Jon Oswald of Rockford
  • “Colonel Liberwitz” of Rockford
  • Technical Sgt. John Froom
  • Ralph and Eileen Tessier (McCullough’s parents)
  • Dan Schaefer with the Sycamore-Ogle Telephone Company

McCullough was arrested in Seattle last year after new suspicions reactivated the cold case. But it wasn’t the first time he had been interrogated in Maria Ridulph’s  murder. In Tuesday’s court filing, McCullough is referred to in testimony by air force personnel as “John Cherry.” Cherry had decided to join the Air Force, but was rejected twice because of “a spot on his lung.” Statements by Sgt. Oswald included in the court filing quote Liberwitz and Froom, who expressed doubts about his being granted a train ticket to Rockford by Chicago recruiters. They also described their meetings with “Cherry,” who is judged as “a narcotic,” “unstable,” and “a lost sheep.” The 1957 report from the State’s Attorney’s office concludes that no further investigation into Cherry/Tessier is needed: according to records, Tessier passed a polygraph test regarding the kidnapping/murder of Maria Ridulph.
McCullough appeared in court Tuesday before the new judge in his case, James Hallock of Kane County. Dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, McCullough said nothing during the short hearing. The case is back in court Friday afternoon: that’s when the prosecution will learn whether it’s necessary to fly in a detective from Seattle to testify next week. 

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.
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