via press release:
CAN A CHILDHOOD MEMORY OF A FRIEND’S MURDER SOLVE A 55-YEAR-OLD COLD CASE?
“48 HOURS: COLD AS ICE” GOES INSIDE THE INVESTIGATION OF WHAT AUTHORITIES SAY IS THE OLDEST COLD CASE EVER PROSECUTED IN THE UNITED STATES
Erin Moriarty and the 48 HOURS team go inside the investigation of what authorities say was the oldest cold case ever to be prosecuted in United States history in “Cold as Ice,” to be broadcast Saturday, March 9, 2013 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
The case tests the memories of witnesses and forces a family to expose deep dark secrets as part of getting justice for the family of Maria Ridulph, a 7-year-old girl who in 1957 was snatched from a quiet street in Sycamore, Ill., and found dead five months later. The story also raises questions about the Statute of Limitations for such cases and how long is too long to rely on old information.
“It’s probably one of the most challenging murder prosecutions in American history,” DeKalb County State's Attorney Clay Campbell tells 48 HOURS.
The case starts in December 1957, when Ridulph was kidnapped. She’d been playing in the snow with a friend when a man named Johnny approached them. He offered them piggyback rides. Then, Ridulph’s friend, Kathy went inside to fetch her mittens. “When I got back they were gone,” friend Kathy Sigman-Chapman tells 48 HOURS. “No sign of her doll, no sign of her, no sign of anybody.”
The investigation into the disappearance captured the attention of the President Dwight D. Eisenhower and FBI head J. Edgar Hoover. The attention subsided when Ridulph was found dead 90 miles from home. Eventually, the trail to Ridulph’s killer grew cold.
The story took a turn in 1994, when a Ridulph neighbor made a deathbed confession to her daughter that her son, John Tessier, was responsible for the girl’s murder. But Tessier had been investigated in 1957 by the FBI and he had an alibi. More than a decade after the deathbed confession, the daughter convinced Illinois State Police Special Agent Brion Hanley to look into Tessier. Hanley tracked Tessier to Seattle, where he was a former police officer and family man living under the name John McCullough.
In an interview with Moriarty, McCullough says he’s “not a murderer.”
To piece together the story, Moriarty and the 48 HOURS team interview McCullough, investigators, prosecutors, McCullough’s daughter, his own sisters, and Ridulph’s brother. 48 HOURS: “Cold As Ice” is produced by Greg Fisher, Judy Rybak and Peter Henderson. Al Briganti is the executive editor. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.