Nearly 50 years after a 15-year-old girl was abducted and murdered in Naperville, Illinois, an arrest has been made.
Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, was arrested on Wednesday by the Naperville Police Department, the department announced Friday.
The retired welder lived in Mounds View, Minnesota at the time of his arrest, but was a 27-year-old who lived within a mile of victim Julie Ann Hanson (15) during the fatal incident on July 8, 1972.
The police chief said at a press conference that Julie borrowed her brother’s bicycle to go to a baseball game that day, but did not return home.
Julie was reported missing that day and her body was later found in a field in Naperville with multiple stab wounds. The bike was found on a dirt road nearby.
Julie was sexually assaulted and stabbed 36 times, according to investigators WLS.
Pictured: Julie Ann Hanson, 15, who was stabbed to death in a Naperville field in 1972
“She was very pretty, a very sweet girl,” neighbor Peggy Thompson said of Julie. “She was only a few years older than us, but she babysat some kids in the neighborhood.”
“Nobody locked doors. We knew everyone, and then this happened, and I called it the end of the age of innocence,” Thompson added. “Because it immediately turned into a very scary existence, especially for us as children.”
Without an immediate suspect, the case went cold, though police continued to investigate over the past five decades.
“This heinous crime has haunted this family, this community and this department for 49 years,” said Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall.
Marshall added that Julie’s photo remained on investigators’ desks in the intervening years.
“This was never a cold case for our police,” Marshall said.
Police cited “technological advances in DNA and genetic genealogy analysis” as the reason for their recent breakthrough.
Authorities declined to comment further on the DNA evidence for fear of jeopardizing the prosecution of the case.
“We can’t go into the details,” said James Glasgow, a Will County State attorney.
“I think probably everyone in the media is aware of this proceeding, and these detectives have used it with great expertise, leading to the charges being brought here today,” Glasgow added.
Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, was arrested on Wednesday by the Naperville Police Department, the department announced Friday. He has been charged with three counts of first degree murder and is being held on $10 million bail
Nevertheless, WLS reports that one of Whelpley’s relatives used a commercial DNA service to learn more about their family history.
That established a connection between Whelpley and the DNA from the crime scene.
Whelpley has been charged with three counts of first degree murder and is being held on $10 million bail.
“The investigation and ensuing charges were truly a team effort spanning decades, and I couldn’t be more proud of the determination and ingenuity of our investigators, both past and present, who have never given up on Julie,” added Marshall. ready.
According to the Naperville Police Department, Whelpley is awaiting extradition to Illinois.
according to CNNIt is not clear whether Whelpley has a lawyer representing him.
As seen in the patchMarshall read a statement from the Hanson family thanking the investigators for their work on the case.
“As you might assume, it has been a long journey for our family,” the statement read. “We are eternally grateful to everyone who has worked on this case over the years.”
Julie’s parents died before her alleged killer was caught, but her brother and sister are still alive.
Thompson, the neighbor, added: ‘Personally I am very grateful that they have someone. I’m just disappointed he’s lived free for 50 years.”
The Naperville Police Department continues to seek information from the public on the case.