SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A Washington state man charged with the 1957 slaying of an Illinois girl has a history of sexual and emotional abuse claims against him – one of which cost him his job as a Milton police officer – according to witness statements in an affidavit filed in the case.
Jack Daniel McCullough was charged in the kidnapping and death 54 years ago of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph of Sycamore, Ill. During a court hearing Monday in Seattle, bail was set at $3 million.
An affidavit filed in King County and obtained by The Seattle Times and posted on its website describes how McCullough, as a police officer in the early 1980s, was accused of sexually molesting a runaway who was 13 or 14. He eventually pleaded guilty to unlawful communication and was fired.
Other witnesses and an ex-wife of McCullough’s claim he sexually or emotionally abused them and that at one time he allegedly had a photography business in which he invited prostitutes into his home to photograph them nude.
Maria disappeared in the early evening of Dec. 3, 1957, from a street corner in Sycamore. Playmate Kathy Chapman, now 61 and living in St. Charles, Ill., has said a man who called himself “Johnny” approached and offered piggyback rides to the girls.
Maria agreed, but Chapman said she went home to get mittens. When she returned, Maria and “Johnny” were gone.
Maria’s body, so decomposed a cause of death could not be determined, was discovered in April 1958 in Jo Daviess County, about 120 miles away.
McCullough, who at the time went by the name John Tessier, claimed he was in Rockford and Chicago that day for a physical examination for military induction.
According to the affidavit, there is record of a collect call about 7 p.m. that day from a Rockford payphone to the Tessier home, but McCullough claimed his stepfather, Ralph Tessier, picked him up. McCullough’s sister said the stepfather was taking her to and from a 4-H meeting at the same time.
The affidavit, from which many names have been removed, does not indicate whether Ralph Tessier was ever asked if he drove to Rockford.
Chapman told The Associated Press she was never shown a photo of McCullough until last fall, when she identified him as the “Johnny” who approached her and Maria.
McCullough’s alibi collapsed last year when his girlfriend at the time was re-interviewed and found an unused train ticket from Rockford to Chicago from Dec. 3, 1957, that he had given her.
The affidavit includes several accusations of sexual abuse, including McCullough’s own admission when he was questioned a half-century ago that he had engaged in “sex play” with a girl “when he was younger,” but had not recently had such relationships.
Another girl claimed he “habitually molested her outdoors behind tall bushes.”
According to the affidavit, the girl said she knew he was “doing that to other neighborhood girls as well, because he would bring her along to act as a lookout while he did so.”
McCullough served in the Army at Fort Lewis and later worked as a police officer for two Washington cities. He was dismissed from the Milton force after the incident with the runaway about 1983.
An ex-wife also reported that during their marriage, he ran a photography business, “though he seemed to make no money at all,” according to the affidavit. She said he would frequently take nude photos of what she described as “prostitutes” who visited the house.
Jack Manis, a friend at the time whom McCullough said accompanied him in assisting the search for Maria, said in 2010 he didn’t see his friend that day.