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Originally published April 8, 2012 at 5:26 PM | Page modified April 9, 2012 at 2:25 PM

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Seattle suspect in 1957 killing to be tried in unrelated rape case

Jack D. McCullough, 72, a Seattle man charged with the 1957 murder of a 14-year-old Illinois girl, will stand trial Monday in a separate case on charges of rape and indecent liberties with a child.

Chicago Tribune

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CHICAGO — A Seattle man charged with killing a 7-year-old Sycamore, Ill., girl in 1957 will stand trial Monday — but not on the murder charge.

Jack D. McCullough is charged in DeKalb County with rape and taking indecent liberties with a child for alleged incidents involving a 14-year-old girl from late 1961 to late 1962.

McCullough, 72, later will be tried in DeKalb County in the death of Maria Ridulph, who vanished from Sycamore in December in 1957 and whose body was found the following April in Jo Daviess County, about 120 miles away. McCullough, a security guard and former police officer, was charged with murder in July and in the rape case in September.

The rape-case charges were filed based on evidence authorities obtained while investigating Ridulph's death, officials said.

The rape-case jury will not hear evidence from the murder investigation. But because of the notoriety associated with the Ridulph case, the judge, prosecutors and McCullough's attorney are taking extra steps in an attempt to assemble an impartial jury.

The attorneys will interview potential jurors one at a time in Judge Robbin Stuckert's chambers. Normally, a panel of four jurors is questioned together in the courtroom while other members of the jury pool wait and watch inside the courtroom.

The private interviews are intended to limit possible tainting of potential jurors, said DeKalb County Public Defender Regina Harris, who represents McCullough.

"There's been a lot of innuendo and rumor, and it's going to be hard," Harris said of the jury selection.

Harris said a larger-than-usual number of potential jurors will be assembled, and the process may take all of Monday and part of Tuesday.

Once the 12 jurors and two alternates are selected, however, the trial itself is expected to last only one or two days, officials says.

Prosecutors expect to call about five witnesses, including the alleged victim, Assistant State's Attorney Julie Trevarthen said Thursday. Harris said she will call two or three witnesses and said she and McCullough haven't decided whether he would testify.

Another witness scheduled to testify is a woman who is expected to describe how McCullough molested her around 1980 when she was a 14-year-old runaway in Washington. She and another teenage runaway were staying with McCullough, who was then working as a police officer, according to court files. McCullough was charged with rape but later pleaded guilty to the lesser crime of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

At the time of Ridulph's disappearance, McCullough lived in Sycamore with his family, but he left town shortly afterward to join the Air Force. He had returned to town by the early 1960s, according to authorities.

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