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Washington man gets life for 1957 slaying of Illinois girl

Jack McCullough, 73, was convicted in September for the abduction and killing of Maria Ridulph, 7, in December of 1957.

Chicago sun Times via AP/File

Jack McCullough, 73, was convicted in September for the abduction and killing of Maria Ridulph, 7, in December of 1957.

SYCAMORE, Ill. — A former Washington State Police officer convicted of kidnapping and murdering a young Illinois girl more than a half century ago was sentenced Monday to life in prison.

Jack McCullough, 73, was convicted in September in one of the oldest unsolved crimes in American history to make it to trial. Life in prison was the maximum sentence he faced.

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The sentencing took place in Sycamore, the small community where Maria Ridulph, 7, was abducted and killed in December of 1957. Like McCullough’s trial, it was expected to be emotional for members of Ridulph’s and McCullough’s families, as well as Kathy Chapman, 63, a childhood friend of Ridulph’s who was with her until moments before she was abducted.

Judge James Hallock admonished an unrepentant McCullough for turning to face Ridulph’s family and friends as he spoke before sentencing. The judge ordered McCullough to face the bench, but McCullough kept pivoting toward the gallery.

‘‘I did not, did not, kill Maria Ridulph,’’ said McCullough, who grew up in Sycamore. ‘‘It was a crime I did not, would not, could not have done.’’

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