McCullough Not Guilty in Rape Charge

On June 29, 2011 John Tessier/Jack Daniel McCullough was arrested for the murder of Maria Ridulph.  Maria was a young girl from Sycamore, Illinois who disappeared and whose remains were found 5-months later.  She had been murdered.  McCullough or “John Tessier” as he had been known back then was arrested and remains in the DeKalb County Jail awaiting trial for Maria’s murder.  McCullough’s sister accused him of rape and he was brought to trial for those allegations last month.  He was found not guilty of the rape of his teenage half-sister 50 years ago.

His sister alleged that he took her for a ride in his car and took her to a house where he assaulted her, as well as two other men in the home but she could not identify them.

Judge Stuckert said prosecutors failed to ask the alleged victim,  now 64, why she didn’t come forward sooner with the accusations. The judge also said they failed to provide evidence about the impact the alleged assault had on Tessier.

According to the Chicago Tribune the renewed investigation of the murder led to the charges of rape against McCullough. Authorities decided to try him in that case first.

Maria Ridulph Case:

On December 3, 1957 at around 6:15 PM, seven-year old, Maria Ridulph, was playing at the intersection of Archie and Center Cross Streets with her friend, Cathy Sigman.  Both girls lived in Sycamore, Illinois a tiny community that shadows Chicago some 50 miles to the west.  It is a sleepy, little town and  the main street to this day is  lined with “painted ladies” style Victorian houses, and dropped against miles and miles of cornfields in the background.  Not much has changed in Sycamore, except for the passage of time.  The children grew up and moved away; parents aged and passed away and the cycle of life continued except for Maria’s.  Her skeletal remains were found over 100 miles away in Jo Davies county by a couple who were mushrooming that April.

For 54 years Maria Ridulph’s family mourned her loss and hoped that one day her killer would be identified.  Cathy told police that a boy who identified himself as “Johnny” wearing a multi-colored sweater came into the yard and asked the girls if they wanted a piggy back ride.  He then asked if they had dollies to play with and Maria ran inside to get hers.  It was then that “Johnny” touched Cathy’s arms and thighs and she just stated that she felt  something was not right with the teen boy who they both knew.  Cathy went home to get mittens because she was cold, and she never saw her friend again.  

After Maria’s body was found, the case went cold.  Cathy was never shown photos of the boy who fit the description of Johnny, and when questioned John Tessier aka “Johnny” had a rock solid alibis.  Fearing that his son might be implicated in the crime because of his match to the description of the suspect, Ralph Tessier told police that his son was in Rockford trying to enlist in the military.  Johnny stated that he had taken the train into Rockford and then into the city (Chicago) to enlist in the military.  During Johnny’s interview with Sycamore Police on December 8th, 1957 they asked him if he had a sexual interest in children.  Johnny admitted that he had participated in “sex play” when he was a child, but it was not something that interested him currently. Tessier’s sister would later admit that he sexually abused not only her, but other neighborhood children.   It wasn’t until some 50 years later that Johnny’s alibis fell apart, but there were even more telltale signs of trouble with the man who was formerly known as John Tessier.

Tessier joined the military.  He went into the Air Force and soon thereafter legally changed his name to “Jack Daniel McCullough”.   Upon leaving the Air Force, “McCullough” enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Washington.  He also went into law enforcement in Milton, Washington and was fired for sexually assaulting a 13-year old runaway in 1983.  McCullough plead guilty to an unlawful communication charge for his crime.

In 2010 McCullough’s former girlfriend was reinterviewed and the topic of her being used as an alibis was discussed.  When she was showing officers an old photo of she and McCullough, she removed it from the frame and an unused train ticket fell out…the ticket that Tessier/McCullough would have used had he actually been on that train to the city.

On June 29, 2011 John Tessier/Jack Daniel McCullough was arrested for the murder of Maria Ridulph.  Maria’s brother, Chuck Ridulph, who still lives in Sycamore and is a pastor to ministry services that he provides for the elderly said that life was never the same after Maria was murdered.  His life changed forever that day.  He thought that whoever killed his sister had long since died, and was thankful that finally the mystery was solved and his sister’s death would be avenged.  McCullough is currently being held in Seattle, Washington on a $3 million bail.


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