Attorneys to argue if statements made by suspect in 1972 Naperville murder can be used at trial

  • Barry L. Whelpley

    Barry L. Whelpley

 
 
Updated 5/3/2022 5:48 PM

A Will County judge who blocked the release of police reports in a decades-old Naperville murder case will hear arguments Wednesday to determine if statements the defendant made to police and his wife can be used at trial.

Barry L. Whelpley, 77, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault and first-degree murder for the 1972 death of Julie Ann Hanson. The 15-year-old Naperville girl disappeared on July 7, 1972, while riding her bicycle to her brother's baseball game. Her body was discovered a day later in a field near 87th Street and Modaff road. The coroner said she had been stabbed 36 times.

 

For decades, Julie's murder went unsolved. Police arrested Whelpley, whose last address was in Mounds View, Minnesota, in 2021 after Naperville police worked with a forensic genetic genealogical company to search for a match from a DNA sample collected off the girl's body. The company found potential matches to Whelpley, his father, and a deceased brother.

Defense attorney Terry Ekl filed motions to suppress statements Whelpley made to police and his wife during an hourslong search of his Minnesota home. Will County Judge David Carlson will hear arguments on the motions Wednesday.

Ekl's motions do not go into detail on what Whelpley said but argue that his statements were made before police advised him of his Miranda rights.

Carlson recently granted a prosecution request to prohibit the release of police reports or other investigative material to news agencies and other non-litigant parties. The Daily Herald had filed a Freedom of Information request seeking police reports related to the case.

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Will County Assistant State's Attorney Chris Koch argued that releasing the records could "increase public condemnation" of Whelpley and risk his right to a fair trial. He added that releasing the information could have a "chilling effect" as prosecutors interview and re-interview witnesses in the decades-old case.

The Naperville Police Department was ready to release some information related to the case, prompting the request to prohibit the release of materials from the Will County state's attorney's office. Ekl did not object to the request.

Carlson did leave the door open for the Daily Herald or other agencies to challenge the order.

Whelpley remains in jail on $10 million bail.

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