Washington man wrongly convicted of 1957 Illinois child killing files federal suit — and names Seattle

The complaint, which includes the Seattle police, accuses authorities in both states of fabricating evidence and conspiring to frame Jack McCullough in the death of Maria Ridulph of Illinois.

A Washington state man now said to be wrongly convicted in the 1957 kidnapping and killing of a 7-year-old girl has filed a federal lawsuit in Illinois, naming Seattle police among the plaintiffs.

The complaint accuses authorities in both states of fabricating evidence and conspiring to frame Jack McCullough in the death of Maria Ridulph of Illinois.

The lawsuit comes days after an Illinois judge granted the 77-year-old a certificate of innocence. McCullough, who lived in Illinois during the disappearance, was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to life in prison.

A prosecutor concluded evidence backed McCullough’s alibi that he had been 40 miles away when the girl disappeared nearly 60 years ago. A judge agreed, ordering McCullough’s release in April 2016 after he had served four years of a life sentence.

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The girl and a friend were playing in the snow outside of her home on Dec. 3, 1957, when a young man approached and offered them piggyback rides.

The friend dashed home to grab mittens, returning to find the girl and the man gone. The decomposed body of the 7-year-old was found months later in a forest.

McCullough was cleared as a suspect in the 1950s. He became a target of investigators years later after one of his half-sisters told authorities their mother said on her deathbed that she believed her son may have killed the child.

A report from DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack described the investigation and trial of McCullough as deeply flawed, zeroing in on what he described as investigators’ erroneous statements to a grand jury that altered the known timeline of events to render McCullough’s alibi moot.

When McCullough arrived in prison, several…

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