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Police exhume Maria Ridulph's body to check for DNA evidence

Jack Daniel McCullough, 72, was charged with rape and indecent liberties with a child in Sycamore, Ill., in 1962.
CBS/WBBM
Police exhume Maria Ridulph's body to check for DNA evidence
Jack Daniel McCullough
CBS/WBBM

(CBS/WBBM) SYCAMORE, Ill. - Late Wednesday afternoon, the Seattle man accused of the 1957 kidnapping and murder of 7-year-old Sycamore girl Maria Ridulph was returned to Illinois to face the charges against him.

Jack Daniel McCullough, 71, was brought to the DeKalb County Jail in Sycamore after he was extradited from Seattle. He is charged with murder, kidnapping and abduction of an infant in the 1957 slaying.

Meantime, earlier Wednesday, authorities exhumed Ridulph's body in an effort to gather more evidence against McCullough.

According to CBS affiliate WBBM, an Illinois State Police spokeswoman said state police, Sycamore police and the FBI, along with the DeKalb County State's Attorney's and Coroner's offices, were on hand as the body of Maria Ridulph was dug up at Elmwood Cemetery in Sycamore.

Authorities say they hope the body will yield new clues, and investigators may use DNA technology that wasn't available at the time of her death.

WBBM reports that Maria's remains were dug up in the hopes of finding evidence that the prime suspect, Jack McCullough, 71, killed her back in 1957. McCullough was known as John Tessier back then. He says he's innocent.

DeKalb State's Attorney Clay Campbel said he intends to prove that McCullough is a liar.

"What drives me is I'm convinced that Jack McCullough killed Maria Ridulph," Campbell said.

Campbell admitted to the station that he's not sure whether exhuming Maria will turn up anything of value, but he said he had to try.

Maria disappeared from her home in Sycamore in December 1957, and her body was found in the spring of 1958 near Galena.

Complete Coverage of Maria Ridulph on Crimesider