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Crime & Courts

City of Seattle pays $300K for 'wrongful conviction' of Jack McCullough in 1957 Ridulph murder

Seattle pays $300K to man wrongly convicted of girl's murder

SEATTLE (AP) — The City of Seattle has paid $300,000 to settle a lawsuit filed against the Police Department and detectives who helped investigate and arrest a Seattle man accused in the sensational abduction and murder of a 7-year-old Illinois girl in 1957.

Former Washington police officer Jack McCullough, now 78, was arrested by Seattle police in 2011 after Illinois prosecutors and detectives claimed to have new evidence implicating McCullough in the murder of Maria Ridulph, who disappeared in Sycamore, Illinois. Her remains were found in 1958 near Galena, Illinois, The Seattle Times reported.

McCullough was convicted in Illinois in 2012 of murder, infant abduction and kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison.

A later prosecutor in DeKalb County found flaws in the case, determined McCullough's alibi was solid and concluded that McCullough couldn't have committed the crime. He asked another judge to throw out the conviction and all charges were dismissed. McCullough sued officers in Illinois and Seattle over allegations of “pervasive misconduct."

The city of Seattle, representing now-retired detectives Cloyd Steiger, Irene Lau and Michael Ciesynski, settled in May. McCullough settled with the other defendants for a total of $445,000.

Police Department spokesman Detective Mark Jamieson said he couldn't comment because the individuals were no longer employed there.

Steiger, now working at the Washington State Attorney General’s Homicide Investigation Tracking System, said Wednesday he believes McCullough “killed that little girl,” and that the case was influenced by “small town politics and corruption” in Illinois.

At the time of the girl's disappearance, her 8-year-old friend said they had been playing in a yard when a man named “Johnny” asked to give them a piggyback ride. The friend went inside for a moment, and when she returned, Ridulph was gone.

McCullough was a neighbor at that time, but he had been cleared by authorities before a renewed effort was launched to solve the case.

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