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Episode 60: Jack McCullough Polygraph

On the evening of December 3, 1957, in Chicago, 11-year-old Maria Ridulph begged to be allowed to go outside as it had started to snow. She never came back. It was reported that she’d been approached by a man named “Johnny” who wanted to give her a piggyback ride. Almost six months later, in April 26, 1958, Maria Ridulph’s partially clothed body was discovered by mushroom hunters in a wooded area in northwestern Illinois. The case was closely  investigated but unsolved, and eventually closed. It was reopened in 2009, with a neighbor of the Ridulph family was arrested as a suspect in the murder. He was a 72-year-old man named Jack McCullough, formerly known as John Tessier. McCullough was arrested after a tip from his sister, who related a deathbed conversation with her mother in which her mother implicated Jack in Maria’s murder. On June 29, 2011, McCullough was arrested, and interrogated. He agreed to take a polygraph–even though he’d already taken and passed one in 1957– as long as it related to Maria, but quits when he realizes the examiner intends to ask him about his relationship with his sister, and other matters unrelated to the Ridulph murder.

In March 2016, the DeKalb County State’s Attorney announced that a post-conviction review of available evidence showed McCullough could not have been present at the place and time of Maria Ridulph’s likely abduction. McCullough was released from prison on April 15, 2016 and the charges against him were dismissed on April 22, 2016. The following year, McCullough was declared actually innocent of the crime by the DeKalb County Circuit Court.

Listen to the episode here.