A day after he was escorted from Washington state, Jack Daniel McCullough appeared in court this morning to face charges that he kidnapped and killed a 7-year-old girl more than 50 years ago.
McCullough, dressed in an orange jail jump suit, appeared relaxed with his arms folded as a DeKalb County judge quickly read the charges against him during a brief hearing.
McCullough, 71, appearing by video, replied "Yes, your honor," when Judge Robbin Stuckert asked if he understood the charges against him.
DeKalb County's chief public defender, Regina Harris, was appointed to represent him.
Maria Ridulph was abducted from her Sycamore home the night of Dec. 3, 1957.
After an intense search, her body was found nearly five months later in Jo Daviess County, about 120 miles away. Unable to determine the cause of death, the DeKalb County coroner’s office listed it only as “foul play.”
The child’s remains were exhumed around daybreak Wednesday in Sycamore’s Elmwood Cemetery -- around the same time McCullough was being sent to Illinois from Seattle, where he was arrested.
Officials said they hope DNA and other technological developments will help their murder case. Investigators who opened Maria's casket Wednesday said they were "very, very satisfied" with the condition of her remains.
McCullough, 71, a former neighbor of the victim's, was charged earlier this month.
McCullough has said that on the day of the girl's disappearance, he had come to Chicago to take an Army physical exam. But a military archivist said any such records were destroyed in a 1973 fire.
McCullough later joined the Air Force and later the Army. After his discharge he became a police officer in Milton, Wash, but resigned in March 1982 rather than be fired, according to records. That same month he was charged with the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl and later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
At the time of his arrest, he was living in a Seattle retirement community, where he also worked as the night watchman.