For practically 50 years, the homicide of Julie Ann Hanson, who was 15 when she was stabbed to loss of life and her physique was found in a cornfield, baffled investigators in a Chicago suburb.
Detectives got here and went, chasing leads and an inventory of potential suspects that by no means fairly panned out.
However then a breakthrough within the unsolved case got here final week, when the police in Naperville, Ailing., introduced that that they had arrested a Minnesota man within the 1972 killing.
The person, Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, who lived inside a mile of Julie’s dwelling on the time that she was kidnapped, was taken into custody final Wednesday and charged with three counts of first-degree homicide, the authorities mentioned.
The police mentioned that genetic family tree had related Mr. Whelpley, a retired welder who was 27 on the time, to the crime. They’d not elaborate on the precise dynamics of what led investigators to him, saying that they didn’t wish to compromise their case in opposition to Mr. 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 on Friday. “We have been all aware of Julie’s homicide, searching for the killer.”
It was not instantly clear if Mr. Whelpley, of Mounds View, Minn., had a lawyer. The authorities have 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 practically 50 rapes that terrorized California within the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s.
Genetic family tree sometimes entails crosschecking DNA proof with ancestry data, together with these on standard ancestry database web sites. Chief Marshall mentioned that a number of non-public labs and corporations had helped with the investigation, which spanned the careers of numerous 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 dwelling, the authorities mentioned. She was reported lacking the subsequent day, and her physique was present in a cornfield in Naperville, which is about 30 miles west of Chicago.
Julie’s mother and father have died, however different relations, a few of whom attended the information convention on Friday, thanked investigators in a press release that was learn by Chief Marshall.
“As you would possibly assume, it has been an extended journey for our household,” the assertion mentioned. “We’re ceaselessly grateful to all those that have labored on this case all through the various 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 within the Naperville space within the Nineteen Seventies that investigators have been capable of remedy.
“So we now have lived these crimes,” Mr. Glasgow mentioned. “They’ve been over our shoulder our total careers.”
Though there was hypothesis that the person convicted within the different 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.”