Maria Ridulph's gravestone
DeKalb County, IL (NBC) - The body of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph, who was kidnapped and killed in 1957, was exhumed Wednesday morning.
The same day, the man accused of killing her was expected to return home to Sycamore, Illlinois from a Seattle jail. For security reasons, DeKalb County State's Attorney Clay Campbell declined to comment on the specifics of the 71-year-old Washington state man Jack Daniel McCullough's return to Illinois.
The State's Attorney's Office received a court order last Friday to exhume Maria's body, Campbell said. The Illinois State Police, Dekalb State's Attorney, FBI, Cook and Dekalb Coroner's Offices and two forensic anthropologists are involved in the investigation.
"Science has advanced thankfully since 1958," Campbell said, "and hopefully that advancement in science can assist us in our investigation of the case."
Maria's older brother, Charles Ridulph, thanked all agencies involved including law enforcement officials who have given him advanced warning on all case updates.
"Although the events are very difficult and very unsettling, we understand the necessity for these things and we are in complete agreement and thankful for the way the case is being handled," said Ridulph.
Maria disappeared from her Sycamore neighborhood on Dec. 3, 1957, and was found dead in the woods after 50 days of hysteria and searches. Prosecutors say McCullough kidnapped and killed her while she played with a friend near her home in Sycamore. McCullough, a former police officer, was being held in a Seattle jail on $3 million bail in connection with the cold case and agreed to return to Illinois to face charges. He was arrested at his home in Seattle last month after authorities said new evidence undermined his alibi.