Illinois police eye possible new suspect in 1957 child murder

(CNN)The Illinois State Police are looking into a possible new suspect in the 1957 abduction and murder of a 7-year-old Sycamore girl.

The disclosure, buried in an exhibit in a civil lawsuit, reveals an eye-popping twist: The new potential suspect emerged on the very same day the old suspect’s murder conviction began to unravel.


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On that day — March 24, 2016 — a prosecutor named Richard Schmack informed a judge in Sycamore that an injustice had been done. He said the wrong man had been convicted in 2012 of the murder of Maria Ridulph. At the time, that conviction was believed to have solved the nation’s oldest cold case ever to go to trial.
The name of the new potential suspect, meanwhile, arrived in that afternoon’s mail. The tipster was shy, unlike others who came forward before with their suspicions in this case. The letter was neatly typed, but unsigned.
Schmack immediately turned it over to police.
Contacted by CNN, Schmack confirmed receiving the letter but declined further comment. A spokesman for the Illinois State Police declined comment because the matter is in litigation.



    2013: Cold case witness describes friend’s kidnapping



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He says the files related to witness Kathy Chapman, Maria’s childhood friend, are particularly crucial to the continuing investigation, and that releasing them could impair the inquiry.
“Kathy Chapman was the only witness to Ms. Ridulph’s disappearance,” the document states. “Therefore, the release of information contained in those pages could impair” the state police’s “current investigation into the March 24 anonymous tip, as well as future leads, by disseminating information that is currently confidential to the public.”
Chapman picked McCullough’s photo out of a lineup 52 years after Maria was abducted and continues to believe she correctly identified “Johnny.”
Additionally, the agent’s affidavit asserts that even if the current lead does not result in an arrest, disclosure of the information sought by Porter could affect state police investigators’ “ability to verify and discount future leads.”
Since it is impossible to predict when other leads might come in, “It is essential that the entire case file remain confidential” to protect investigators’ ability “to assess the validity of these potential leads.”

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