A Seattle man who said in a jailhouse interview last month that he is innocent of charges that he kidnapped and murdered a 7-year-old girl in Sycamore in 1957 will plead not guilty in court, his attorney said today.
“Absolutely,” said DeKalb County public defender Regina Harris when asked after a court hearing whether her client, Jack Daniel McCullough, 71, will plead not guilty.
Harris’ comment came after DeKalb County prosecutors handed over to her a cardboard box full of police reports and interviews.
McCullough’s plea will be entered at an arraignment that has yet to be scheduled.
In an interview with the Tribune last month in Seattle, McCullough maintained that he is innocent and said that he was in Chicago at the time of the murder undergoing a day’s worth of tests to join the military.
Harris will have to review “voluminous” pages of documents from local, state and federal authorities as she prepares to defend McCullough, who accused of killing his former neighbor, Maria Ridulph. She was abducted from her home the night of Dec. 3, 1957.
Authorities found her body nearly five months later about 120 miles away in Jo Daviess County. Unable to determine the cause of death, the DeKalb County coroner’s office at the time listed her death only as “foul play.”
The child's remains were exhumed last month in Sycamore's Elmwood Cemetery, the same day that McCullough was returned to Illinois from Seattle, where he was under arrest for the crime.
McCullough was living in a Seattle retirement community where he also worked as the night watchman at the time of his arrest. He is being held in lieu of $3 million bail.
A hearing is scheduled for next week, when FBI records, lead sheets from a tips hotline and CDs containing photos will be released to the defense, Harris said.