It’s horrifying any time an innocent person is robbed of their life. Even worse is when the life is that of a child.
In 1957, seven year old Maria Ridulph was abducted from the small town of Sycamore, Illinois and murdered. The crime sent shockwaves across the nation. Dozens of FBI agents descended on the town searching for the girl, clues and interviewing dozens of people FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover took a personal interest in the case, as did President Dwight Eisenhower.
Maria’s body was found some five months later, near Galena, a small town over a hundred miles away.
After weeks of fruitless investigations, the case went cold.
After 55 years, the case was reopened based on hearsay evidence which favored the prosecution. Jack Daniel McCullough, a 75-year-old military veteran and former police officer from Seattle, was convicted in 2012 of the crime by a judge hearing the case without a jury in a weeklong trial.
Now in 2016, Richard Schmack, the state’s attorney for DeKalb County, says that McCullough could not have committed the crime. “The People are ethically compelled and constrained to admit the existence of clear and convincing evidence showing Defendant to have been convicted of an offense which he did not commit,” Schmack stated in court documents.
CNN has done an in depth piece about this fascinating case. It is definitely worth the read.
“Thousands of pages of improperly excluded police reports more than 20 years old contain a wealth of information pointing to McCullough’s innocence, and absolutely nothing showing guilt,” Schmack said in a statement announcing his decision not to fight McCullough’s request to overturn his conviction. Without resistance from prosecutors, McCullough likely could go free as early as next week.
This is an extremely brave move by the prosecution. When the entire community wants someone to be guilty, to stand up for getting the right conviction instead of just a conviction is the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, many many innocent people are still languishing in prisons around the country, citizens of this country who are victims of a failed justice system.