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updated: 8/21/2012 9:43 PM

Defense says FBI reports back alibi in 1957 murder case

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  • Jack McCullough

    Jack McCullough

Associated Press

Lawyers for a man charged in the 1957 kidnapping and killing of a 7-year-old Sycamore girl said Tuesday that FBI documents support his claims of an alibi.

Jack McCullough has maintained he could not have abducted the girl on Dec. 3, 1957, saying he had traveled to Chicago that day for military medical exams required for enlisting in the Air Force.

His lawyers presented FBI records Tuesday that they said support the claim, according to The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle. It is the same alibi McCullough spoke of in a jailhouse interview with The Associated Press in July 2011 and the same account he gave when first questioned by investigators when he was 18.

The abduction of Maria Ridulph made national headlines at the time, with President Dwight Eisenhower and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover reportedly asking for daily updates on the investigation. Thousands of people joined in the search for the girl and fearful parents in Sycamore kept their children locked indoors for months.

Maria's body was found a few months later about 120 miles from her home.

McCullough, who was named John Tessier and lived in Sycamore at the time of the girl's disappearance, matched the suspect's description, but he had an alibi.

Having since relocated to Washington state, McCullough became the focus of the investigation again last year after authorities said they received new information on the case.

He was arrested in July 2011 in Seattle and returned to Illinois to face charges.

Prosecutors had filed a motion seeking information on the purported alibi, and a judge gave the defense until Tuesday to lay out the details. The trial begins Sept. 10.

The defense said FBI records show a military requiting staff sergeant told special agents that McCullough was in Chicago the day of the abduction to take the physical.

McCullough claims he traveled by train to Rockford later that evening and, after he arrived, made a collect call to his stepfather to pick him up.

According the defense documents, a telephone company official told special agents that there was a record of a call from Rockford to a Sycamore number from a John S. Tassier, which the official believed was a misspelling of Tessier.

McCullough is being held in the DeKalb County jail on $3 million bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Friday.

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