SYCAMORE – After reviewing DeKalb County’s most infamous murder case, DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack subpoenaed AT&T for documentary evidence “never previously sought” in the 1957 murder of Sycamore girl Maria Ridulph, according to court records.
Convicted child killer Jack McCullough has been trying to convince a court to give him another chance to prove his innocence since his conviction in 2012. In his most recent motion, McCullough asked a judge to force Schmack’s office to comply with ethics rules. In response, Schmack said no such order is needed because his office is already required to follow such rules.
Schmack’s response shed some light on how the prosecutor’s office has been handling McCullough’s most recent appeal, including the subpoena to AT&T.
“I undertook a complete and thorough review of all discovery, including the grand jury and trial transcripts, subsequently reported material from the media [...], public statements from relevant witnesses made after the trial, and pro-se pleadings filed by prosecution witnesses in their own cases,” Schmack wrote in a February court filing. “This review included discussions with
the Illinois State Police, Sycamore Police, and the Ridulph family, and revealed the necessity of further investigation, including issuance of a subpoena
directed to AT&T, for documentary evidence never previously sought.”
Schmack declined to comment Monday on the nature of the subpoena, what records were sought or what the results of that subpoena could mean for the 1957 case. He said it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment further on the matter.
He said the subpoena inquiry was necessary to respond to McCullough’s petition for post-conviction relief, which was filed in June and recently brought McCullough back to Sycamore for the first time since his conviction.
McCullough, who was known as John Tessier at the time Maria disappeared, was arrested in 2011 in Seattle after the investigation was renewed because his mother, Eileen Tessier, told her daughter that McCullough was responsible for the crime.
Maria’s childhood friend, Kathy Sigman, was the only person who saw a stranger take Maria for a piggyback ride as the trio were playing near her Sycamore home. Decades later, she identified McCullough as that stranger from a series of photographs police showed her.
McCullough has maintained his innocence and has claimed phone records, FBI reports and comments from military recruiters show he was in the Rockford area when the girl was abducted.
In his most recent appeals, McCullough has raised questions about the use of jailhouse informants, whether prosecutors failed to turn over evidence that could have been helpful to the defense at trial and other arguments similar to those that he and his lawyers raised during his 2012 trial and subsequent appeal. He also claimed newly discovered evidence would cast doubt on the testimony provided by two witnesses at the McCullough’s 2012 trial.