For almost 50 years, the homicide of Julie Ann Hanson, who was 15 when she was stabbed to dying and her physique was found in a cornfield, baffled investigators in a Chicago suburb.
Detectives got here and went, chasing leads and a record of potential suspects that by no means fairly panned out.
However then a breakthrough in the unsolved case got here final week, when police in Naperville, Illinois, introduced that that they had arrested a Minnesota man in the 1972 killing.
The person, Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, who lived inside a mile of Julie’s house on the time that she was kidnapped, was taken into custody Wednesday and charged with three counts of first-degree homicide, authorities mentioned.
Police mentioned that genetic family tree had related Whelpley, a retired welder who was 27 on the time, to the crime. They’d not elaborate on the particular dynamics of what led investigators to him, saying that they didn’t need to compromise their case in opposition to Whelpley, who’s being held on $10 million bond.
“This was by no means a chilly case for our police division,” Robert Marshall, the Naperville police chief, mentioned throughout a information convention Friday. “We had been all acutely aware of Julie’s homicide, on the lookout for the killer.”
It was not instantly clear if Whelpley, of Mounds View, Minnesota, had a lawyer. Authorities had been ready to extradite him to Illinois.
The breakthrough, like greater than 40 different arrests in long-unsolved instances, is as soon as once more being attributed to the science of genetic family tree. Essentially the most notable such case led to the arrest of the so-called Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo. He was sentenced to life in jail with out parole for 13 murders and almost 50 rapes that terrorized California in the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s.
Genetic family tree usually includes cross-checking DNA proof with ancestry data, together with these on well-liked ancestry database web sites. Marshall mentioned that a number of personal labs and firms had helped with the investigation, which spanned the careers of a variety of detectives.
“This brutal crime haunted our group for a lot of, many, a few years,” he mentioned.
On July 7, 1972, Julie borrowed her brother’s bike to go to a baseball recreation and by no means returned house, authorities mentioned. She was reported lacking the following day, and her physique was discovered in a cornfield in Naperville, which is about 30 miles west of Chicago.
Julie’s mother and father have died, however different members of the family, a few of whom attended the information convention Friday, thanked investigators in a assertion that was learn by Marshall.
“As you may assume, it has been a lengthy journey for our household,” the assertion mentioned. “We’re eternally grateful to all those that have labored on this case all through the numerous years.”
James W. Glasgow, the state’s legal professional for Will County, mentioned that Julie’s case was the final of three murders of ladies in the Naperville space in the Nineteen Seventies that investigators had been in a position to resolve.
“So we’ve lived these crimes,” Glasgow mentioned. “They’ve been over our shoulder our whole careers.”
Though there was hypothesis that the person convicted in the opposite two murders had additionally killed Julie, investigators didn’t imagine that was the case, he mentioned.
“These guys by no means rested,” he mentioned of the investigators, “by no means put the file to the facet.”