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McCullough murder trial begins today; follow trial online

Jack McCullough is escorted Tuesday into the DeKalb County Courthouse by sheriff's deputies Ray Nelson (back left) and David Rivers (front right).
Jack McCullough is escorted Tuesday into the DeKalb County Courthouse by sheriff's deputies Ray Nelson (back left) and David Rivers (front right).

SYCAMORE – The trial of a man charged with kidnapping and killing a 7-year-old Sycamore girl more than 50 years ago is set to begin today at the DeKalb County Courthouse.

Prosecutors say Jack D. McCullough, 72, of Seattle, is responsible for the disappearance and death of Maria Ridulph, who was abducted from her Sycamore neighborhood Dec. 3, 1957.

Her remains were discovered five months later in Jo Daviess County.

McCullough, formerly known as John Tessier, was arrested in July 2011 in Seattle.

Police have said authorities received new information on the case several years ago that led them to focus on McCullough, who lived near Ridulph in 1957.

Ridulph’s remains were exhumed from a Sycamore cemetery last year as prosecutors searched for DNA evidence.

They have said the case will be largely circumstantial.

McCullough was indicted Aug. 19, 2011, by a grand jury on charges of murder, kidnapping and abduction of an infant.

The charges are based on the Illinois Revised Statutes as they were written in 1957.

He has said he was in Chicago and Rockford the day Ridulph disappeared and has pleaded not guilty to the charges. A judge determined last week that defense attorneys could not use FBI records they say support McCullough’s claim as evidence.

In April, McCullough was tried on separate charges of rape and indecent liberties with a child; Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert found him not guilty.

For the murder case, McCullough waived his right to a jury trial in July, opting for a bench trial.

Stuckert removed herself from the case, and Kane County Associate Judge James Hallock was appointed to decide the outcome. Attorneys have said they expect the trial to take at least one week.

McCullough is being held at the DeKalb County Jail on $3 million bond.

McCullough trial coverage

• On the Web: Check at midday for updates from this morning, then come back at 6 p.m. for a quick video recap of the day’s events.

• On your phone: Sign up for text alerts here to get trial news sent to your phone.

• Social media: Follow @Daily_Chronicle for trial updates on Twitter and become our fan on Facebook for updates.

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