Man charged in 1972 murder of Naperville teen must remain in jail before trial, judge rules

A Minnesota man charged with the 1972 murder of a Naperville teen will remain in jail after a Will County judge on Tuesday rejected a defense motion for pretrial release.

Barry Whelpley, 78, was arrested in 2021 on charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault and first-degree murder in the death of 15-year-old Julie Ann Hanson. His bail was set at $10 million, and he has remained in the Will County Adult Detention Center since.

During a detention hearing on Tuesday, defense attorney Terry Ekl argued Whelpley's bail should be vacated under the state's SAFE-T Act provisions. Under the new regulations, a judge must find a defendant poses a threat to a specific person or the community at large, or is a significant flight risk, to order pretrial detention.

Ekl argued Whelpley's age and the fact that he had no run-ins with police in the more than 40 years before his arrest should make him eligible for release. He added that Whelpley, who is married, was continually employed from 1983 until his retirement in 2021.

Prosecutors countered that Whelpley has a history of violence and that the nature of the crime is enough to keep him in custody.

A coroner's report showed Hanson had been sexually assaulted and stabbed 36 times. Her body was found in a field near 87th Street and Modaff Road on July 8, 1972, a day after she had gone missing.

“He's a risk to every underage girl out there,” Assistant Will County State's Attorney Chris Koch argued.

Koch presented several police reports involving Whelpley and two of his former wives. Dating from the mid-1960s to the 1980s, the reports involve a variety of allegations, including that Whelpley threatened to kill his ex-wife and children, broke into their homes, slashed the tires of one of the women's boyfriends after she and Whelpley separated, and threatened to harm the boyfriend.

That man, Koch said, has expressed concern for his safety if Whelpley is released.

Ekl, however, pointed out Whelpley was not convicted of those offenses and there is no proof offered that he was arrested in any of those cases.

Whelpley scored 0 out of 14 points on a court-ordered risk assessment, indicating he poses no threat to the community at large. The police reports Koch mentioned were not part of the risk assessment, an issue Judge Dave Carlson questioned.

“I don't have a full picture of what exactly happened with prior alleged criminal activity,” Carlson said.

Referring to the man who expressed fear for his safety, Carlson said there is a difference between being threatened and fearing one's own safety.

“Someone being in fear and someone posing a threat are two distinct positions,” Carlson said.

Koch also attempted to connect Whelpley to a 1966 attack on a North Central College student. He noted the woman contacted police after Whelpley's 2021 arrest to identify him as the man who attacked her. Whelpley has not been charged in that case.

Whelpley has 14 days to appeal Carlson's ruling. Ekl indicated an appeal is likely.

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