To the Editor:
The recent “48 Hours” coverage of Jack McCullough’s conviction for the 1957 murder of Maria Ridulph tried to convey in one hour a complex investigation and prosecution.
Although the interview at the end of the program certainly revealed McCullough’s character, the show’s brevity and editorial focus failed to present an accurate picture of all the factors contributing to his conviction.
The actual investigative team was a combination of detectives and agents of the Illinois State Police, the Sycamore and Seattle police departments, the DeKalb County Coroner’s Office and various county and federal agencies.
The expert prosecution team consisted of the state’s attorney and several assistants. I believe the case brought forward by these professionals was the basis for the judge’s correct guilty verdict.
Although the program briefly quoted the lead Illinois State Police investigator and the Seattle detectives, “48 Hours” could have supported the defendant’s conviction with comments from other detectives and prosecutors. Instead, the producers presented an interview with a former Sycamore police lieutenant who played no part in the recent investigation, and whose alternative suspect theory had been thoroughly discredited years ago.
It is unfortunate that the weight given to his comments might have left a misleading impression with the audience. The airtime could have been used more effectively to present the real facts that could have answered questions raised during the presentation.
Instead of bringing a sense of closure to a long, sad chapter in Sycamore’s history, the program only dramatized events and elevated some personal opinions. I encourage those who want a more complete account of this matter to read the trial transcripts and related documents available in the public record.
Donald M. Thomas
Chief of police
Sycamore Police Department