Jack McCullough and the Maria Ridulph abduction

The majority of the FBI documents and case file is here: Discovery File

The majority of the case events and transcripts is here: Trial Transcripts and case events


Since Jack’s release from prison, this website is slowly becoming a repository for case transcripts, evidence, and major events.

What happened (very short summary):

The FBI established that “Johnny” made contact with Maria and Kathy prior to 6:40 PM and was last seen at 7 pm when Kathy asked him “what time is it.” The abduction happened between 6:40 and 7:00 p.m. on December 3, 1957. “According to Mrs. Thomas Cliffe and a neighbor, Stanley Wells, Maria and Cathie were screaming as they chased each other around the trunk of a huge elm tree a little before 7 p.m., Dec. 3, 1957. It was cold and without street lamps, there were only the headlights of passing cars for illumination as the girls played in the dark.” (LA Times 12/6/07).  Spokane Daily Chronicle, 12/4/1957 below states approximately 7 p.m.  

From the FBI files obtained by CNN (link on respective page):

On December 7, 1957,  MICHAEL RIDULPH, 616 Archie Place, Sycamore, Illinois, father of victim, advised of the following:  On December 3, 1957, the family completed supper about 5:00 p.m. Mr. RIDULPH recalled that from that time until about 6:30 p.m. he read the paper in the living room. He thinks but is not certain that he began to watch television about 6:30 p.m.  He thinks the program was “Cheyenne” or the “Jim Bowie” show or perhaps some other frontier program.

He cannot recall specifically but thinks MARIA went out to play about 6:15 p.m.  He could not specifically recall her asking permission but assumed she would have consulted her mother before going out,

Mr. RIDULPH recalls that at an undetermined time while he was watching television, MARIA went into the living room and went to her “corner”.  This is the southwest corner of the living room where she keeps some toys. After going to her corner for a moment, MARIA went out. He could not recall if she took anything from the corner or what she was wearing.

Mr. RIDULPH was still watching television when he heard KATHY SIGMAN, MARIA’s favorite playmate, talking to his son, CHARLES, who was listening to records in the den with his nextdoor neighbor chum, RANDY STROKBOM.

Maria body was found months later, eaten by animals 120 miles away from Sycamore.  I have viewed the pictures of the body, and read the original autopsy, there was nothing but publicity to be gained by exhuming the body, so it was exhumed.

Where was Jack McCullough (John Tessier):

According to the FBI reports (below), Jack stayed in Chicago the night of December 2, 1957, went to a physical in Chicago on the morning of December 3rd for the Air Force.  He then took the train to Rockford at 5:30 p.m., arrived at 6:45 p.m., called his father collect at 6:57 p.m. met with other military officers.  Jack entered active duty in the Air Force on Dec. 11, 1957, later earning the bronze star for meritorious service in Vietnam.

Jack did not commit the crime, and could not have based on the FBI reports. These FBI reports were read by the prosecution, “cover to cover” by the investigators (Zulawski – email), and Judge Hallock, and were used in the arrest warrant.

What happened to convict Jack McCullough:

“You can say something over and over again… it doen’t make it true”  — Clay Campbell

Janet Tessier:

Janet Tessier was the caretaker to Ami Lemberger, mother of Mark Lemberger, author of “Crimes of Magnitude” a book about the murder of a seven-year old girl. After spending three and a half years with the Lemberger family, and reading the book, Janet decided she had a “story” of her own. (See link to story at bottom of page.) Janet went to the police September 11, 2008 and told them her dying mother [DOD 1/23/1994] on a lot of medication, and pleasantly confused per medical reports in 1994 “She grabbed my wrist and said, ‘Those two little girls, the one that disappeared, John did it,’.”  While this disagreed with what Mary Hunt (Tessier) recalls, Mary only recalls her mother saying “He did it” and the meaning of which needed to be inferred (9/13/2012 trial transcript, see “Comments on CNN” page for full transcript). 

Janet claims to have called the police three times before 2008, yet no records exists of these calls.  The report to the police which is recorded seems to have happened shortly after the death of Ralph Tessier, the last living witness to Jack’s where abouts on December 3, 1957.

The train ticket:

The police opened the investigation, and found a train ticket and an expert authenticated the ticket and said it had not been used. (Ann O’Neill, CNN 12/11/12)  The ticket was issued 11/28/57 – stamped government issued. (It’s issued the day after Jack’s 18th b-day, who was trying to register for the air force ASAP.) It says on the ticket that there is a 30 day window to use it. And it is a ticket going to Chicago, not a return home ticket.  Even in the Charging Papers (Charging_Papers) the prosecution agrees Jack was in Chicago, it is obvious the train ticket has no impact on the case, but it was still told to the media what an important piece of evidence it was, and for some reason needed to authenticated it had not been used.  The ticket was not used in trial, it was just something to excite the press.


Court exhibit/Jessica Koscielniak/Getty Images for CNN

The eye witness:

Brion Hanley in September of 2010 was  able to help (See #13 Defense Motion page) Kathy Chapman to positively identify Jack as the “Johnny” of 1957 after “refreshing her memory” for an hour or so, using a photo lineup with HUGE problems.   (See #13 on the Defense Motion page, and the Photo line up page).  Kathy made this “positive identification” after seeing the subject for one to two minutes (per trial transcripts), in the dark, in the snow on December 3, 1957. On December 22, 1957 Kathy positively identified thirty-six year old Thomas Joseph Rivard:  DOB 4/16/22, m/w, blue eyes, dark blond/wavy/bushy hair, yellowish teeth w/ small spaces between, 5’4 ½, 156 lbs, ruddy complexion at the Dane County Sheriff (prior link) Office in Madison Wisconsin.  When asked in court (9/11/2012) Kathy remembers going to the line up, but states “I don’t believe I picked anybody out.”    Kathy can’t remember picking out Mr. Rivard, which she did per the FBI file.  So, was it a 36-year-old 5’4” man that took Maria, or was it a 5’10” 18 year old your dad hit with his taxi on April 1, 1947? (link – taxi)  Brion Hanley was able to help Kathy figure that one out (while “refreshing” her memory with Jack’s picture in front of him), maybe the only guy not wearing a suit and tie in the photo line up?  Maybe the guy looking right at ya? Kathy Chapman’s memory of what happened changed a few times in 1957 (See LA Times 12/6/07 article, FBI documents from CNN), but 55 years later she was able to testify under penalty of perjury she remembered what really happened.

The Lineup

(photo from CNN, Trial exhibit)

The arrest:

On June 29, 2011 Jack was arrested, and interrogated for six hours till two am, with no attorney, as a 72-year-old man with no sleep on heart medication. Jack agreed to a lie detector test on June 29, 2011 (just has he had done with the FBI in 1957, see below) but quit the test after all the officers wanted to talk about was the Milton case.  Just note: Jack was willing to take a lie detector test related to Maria, but quit because he did not want to answer questions about a 1984 case in Milton.  (And there actually was no lie detector in Seattle, they lied to him about it.)  Officers Cloyd Steiger and Michael Ciesynski noted about the interrogation: “but we caught him in so many lies.” (Seattle Times 12/14/2012) But the “lies” Jack was caught in was he just could not remember.  It is noted 9/12/2012 trial transcript Mr. Steiger and Mr. Ciesynki both needed their reports to refresh their memories.  A 72-year-old man is supposed to remember things happening 54 years ago, but detectives are not supposed to remember what they wrote one year ago.  The FBI reports “were used during the conversation with the defendant.  In fact Jack “Johnny” admitted that what he told the FBI was correct in the reports I showed him.”  Zulawski  It is not know what FBI reports were used, because Jack was firm after his arrest the Air Force records would clear him.  The Zulawski email is interesting, I am not sure if Mr. Zulawski realized I had access to court documents, he makes some factually untrue statements in his email.

With no confession, Clay Campbell had zero evidence in the case, and exhumed the body of Maria the day Jack arrived in Sycamore, knowing because most of the internal organs had been eaten by animals, and the body had been outside in the weather, no DNA was even possible.  Clay Campbell stated: “I am well aware of the precarious nature of prosecuting a case you cannot prove, but we are confident that Mr. McCullough killed Maria Ridulph.” (Seattle Times 7/12/2011)  Well, Mr. Campbell just needed a few jail house inmates to support his precarious theory on the case, two of those would come the week of the trial starting.

Subpoenas to Reporters:

Mr. Campbell did try for the report’s notes for those interviewing Jack while he was in jail in Seattle, but;  “[Judge] Stuckert, who likened them to a prosecutorial “fishing expedition.” denied the subpoenas. (Chicago Tribune, 11/8/2011)


The case languished for a year before going to trial, during which time Clay Campbell charged Jack with a 1961 rape of Jeanne Tessier.  See page on the Rape Trial.

The Trial:

After Clay Campbell was able to convince Judge Hallock to ignore the FBI files (after Hallock read them), trial began. At trial the conflicting testimony of three inmates (more to be added on the inmates testimony), Janet’s testimony of her mom’s statement, and Kathy’s photo identification were found to be very compelling by Judge Hallock, and Jack was found guilty.

The Sentencing:

At sentencing Charles Rudolph claimed Jack had raped his sister. One more statement made lacking any evidence at all. There were a lot of people who received their five minutes of fame; Jeanne Tessier, Janet Tessier, Clay Campbell, Brion Hanley, Larry Kot and others, but there never was any evidence to convict Jack McCullough.


Jack is now home after being taken away from the wife and family that cares about him for five long years. All because of a vindictive step sister Janet Tessier, the fraudulent investigation of Brion Hanley and Larry Kot, the prosecutorial misconduct by Clay Campbell, and a Judge who was complicit.

Please inquire if you have any questions on the case. There is a 99% chance I have the answer, or could send you to someone who does.

FBI Reports. Clay Campbell, Judge Hallock and investigator Brion Hanley read them, so should everyone else.  See the Discovery File for the entire case file with FBI documents.

(Remember, Jack’s legal last name was “Cherry” in 1957, he changed it to “Tessier.”  This was because his mother has never changed his legal name to her husband’s Ralph Tessier.)

FBI Report, page 25

SUSPECT – JOHN SAMUEL CHERRY, aka. John Samuel Tessier

On December 6, 1957, Deputy Sheriff GEORGE GOULD, DeKelb County Sheriff’s Office, Sycamore, Illinois, DeKalb, advised SA JEROME P. NOLAN that he had just received an anonymous telephone call from a woman who refused to identify herself, but stated that a boy named TRESCHNER, age about 20, blond hair, lived in the neighborhood of the victim. Deputy Sheriff GOULD stated that there was no further conversation nor information supplied by this woman.

On December 10, 1957, Deputy Sheriff GOULD was re-contacted by SA DAVID L. BURTON and he advised at this time that the TRESCHNER previously reported to SA NOLAN was in fact a TESSIER family who reside at 227 Center Cross in Sycamore. He stated he did not have any reason to suspect any member of the TESSIER family as possibly being involved in the disappearance of the victim other than the fact that the oldest TESSIER boy is named JOHN and he meets the general description of the Unknown Subject. He also stated he has never heard of any member of the TESSIER family being involved in criminal action.

On December 8, 1957, Mr. RALPH TESSIEH, 227 Center Cross Street, Sycamore, Illinois, advised SAs PRANK L. MELLOTT and DAVID L. BURTON that he had discussed with his wife, EILEEN, the fact that their son JOHN TESSIER might fall under suspicion inasmuch as he is approximately 5′ 8″ tall, 19 years of age, has blond hair, and his first name is JOHN. He stated that his son was in Rockford, Illinois, at the Air Force recruiting office on the evening of December 3, 1957, and that he placed a collect call from Rockford to the TESSIER home at about 7:10 p.m. on that evening. He further stated that his son had been in Chicago, Illinois, on the Monday preceding December 3, 1957; after being rejected for induction into the Air Force because of a spot on his lung he had returned to Rockford on. December 3, 1957.

FBI Report, page 30 (Jack McCullough – CHERRY)

The following information was received by SA JOHN W. ROBERTS, Jr. on December 10, 1957:

Staff Sergeant JON OSWALD, Rockford, Illinois, advised telephonically that CHERRY had been sent to Chicago on December 2, 1957, for a physical examination, being rejected at that time because of a spot on his lung. He stated that CHERRY had been requested to stay over in Chicago for a re-examination, which re-examination was afforded him on the morning of December 3, 1957. He was again rejected for the same reason.”

FBI Report, page 31 (Jack McCullough – CHERRY)

OSWALD stated that CHERRY told him that he was given a train ticket to Rockford, Illinois by the Air Force. OSWALD stated that this is a highly irregular procedure and that he telephonically contacted Chicago to verify this story, at which time he learned that the train ticket had been furnished by the Army Reserve unit located at 615 West VanBuren, and no verification of the information could be obtained at the time of calling. OSWALD stated that in his opinion, irregardless of who issues the train ticket, it would have been highly irregular that a ticket to Rockford would have been issued when CHERRY’S home is in Sycamore and papers reflecting CHERRY’S home would have been in front of the person issuing the ticket.

OSWALD stated that CHERRY had told him that after his rejection he had visited some burlesque shows in Chicago some time between 12 noon and 5:15 P.m. However, the names of these places visited were not mentioned. CHERRY further stated that he took the 5:15 p.m. train, which according to OSWALD would have arrived in Rockford, Illinois, at approximately 6:45 p.m.

OSWALD stated that CHERRY apparently proceeded to the Post Office where he personally contacted Colonel FNU LIBERWITZ Air Force Reserve Commander, at approximately 7:15 or 7:30 p.m. It is noted that LIBERWITZ is reportedly the co-owner of the Liberwitz Brothers Machine or Manufacturing Company in Rockford.

CHERRY reportedly told LIBERWITZ that he had been directed by the office in Chicago to report to the Recruiting Office in Rockford, Illinois, which story LIBERWITZ found difficult to believe inasmuch as it is known that the Recruiting Office is not open in the evening. OSWALD stated that LIBERWITZ expressed the opinion that CHERRY gave the appearance of being a “narcotic”, and told LIBERWITZ that he had been rejected because he was unstable.

According to information, LIBERWITZ directed CHERRY to the 3rd floor recruiting office where CHERRY contacted Technical Sergeant JOHN FROOM. FROOM, according to OSWALD, stated that during his conversation with CHERRY, CHERRY appeared bewildered and looked and acted like a “lost sheep”. FROOM also stated that CHERRY said to him that he was going to contact his father in Sycamore and have his father come and get-him.

FBI Report, page 32 (Jack McCullough – CHERRY)

On December 4, 1957, OWSALD stated that CHERRY returned to the Recruiting Office in Rockford, and during the course of their conversation, CHERRY mentioned that is was a good thing he was not in Sycamore last night because of the disappearance of the girl. According to OSWALD, no details of the disappearance were discussed except that CHERRY mentioned searching parties had been all over the area looking for her. CHERRY further mentioned that he would not be considered a suspect because his girlfriend’s father was a Deputy Sheriff. OSWARD stated that his conversation with CHERRY was interrupted by a phone call from his landlady, Mrs. Grimes, and that during the conversation with her he mentioned her name. At the conclusion of the conversation, CHERRY asked something to the effect, “Is she related to the GRIMES girls?”, whereupon OSWWALD said he had no idea and asked for details, at which time CHERRY appeared well read on the GRIMES case in Chicago. During the course of their conversation OSWALD stated that CHERRY showed him a “little black book” which contained the names and addresses of the girls in Sycamore, as well as their bust and hip measurements.

OSWALD stated that he had not seen CHERRY on the night of December 3 and his first contact with him was on the morning of December 4, at which time CHERRY was wearing an odd colored, flashy shirt (apparently conventional type, not slipon) with a string necktie. The color of his slacks was unrecalled. He was wearing a brown jacket made of a fuzzy material and no hat. OSWALD said he notice a slight cut across the upper lip of CHERRY but added the cut appeared to be fresh and could have been done while shaving.

No further investigation is being conducted regarding the above suspect, in view of the above information.

FBI Report, page 4 (Jack McCullough – TESSIER in this report)

Note: page 3 is missing.


of the unknown subject and was further suspected because of his eagerness to assist in the search for the missing girl on the night of December 3, 1957. SA DAVID L. BURTON assisted in this interview.

The recorded reaction on the polygraph charts did not reflect evidence of guilty knowledge or implication by TESSIER in this matter. It is believed that he was a proper subject for such a test and would have reacted significantly if he had been involved.



aka John Samuel Cherry

Mr. DAN SCHAEFER, general manager, Sycamore-Ogle Telephone Company, Sycamore, Illinois, on December 9, 1957, informed SA DAVID L. BURTON that his company records reflected a collect call was placed on telephone number 2-9297, Rockford, Illinois, on December 3, 1957, to number 3257, Sycamore, Illinois, at approximately 6:57 p.m. on that date. This latter number is listed to one RALPH E. TESSIER and according to his records, the call was made by one JOHN S. TASSIER. Mr. SCHAEFER was of the opinion that the spelling of the name TASSIER was merely a spelling error on the part of the operator who handled the call. He also stated that this call lasted until 6:59 p.m. and that it was accepted by the TESSIER family in Sycamore.


Cg, will complete and report investigation conducted re the additional suspects.


Reports of SA SOL E. DENNIS at Chicago dated 12/11/57 and 12/17/57;

Report of SA RAYMOND A. DRISCOLL at Chicago dated 12/13/57.

FBI Report, page unnumbered, SPO – 3071 at top.(Jack McCullough – CHERRY)

Mrs. EILEEN TESSIER, 227 Center Cross, was also interviewed on December 8, 1957, by SAs MELLOTT and BURTON and she stated that her son, John TESSIER, had been in Rockford, Illinois, on the evening of December 3, 1957. She advised that her husband, RALPH, had gone to Rockford and picked up their son at approximately 8:00 p.m. that evening after he, JOHN, had called collect at about 7:10 p.m. to advise them that he was in Rockford and was ready to come home. She stated that she had discussed with her husband the possibility that a question as to their son’s whereabouts on the night of December 3, 1957, might arise due to the similar nature of this [word illegible] and the description of the Unknown suspect which she [words illegible] in the newspapers.

References (if any links don’t work, please email me):

1. The FBI reports are on page 26-31 of the “August 2012 court documents.pdf”:August 2012 court documents

2. Doug Moe’s story of Janet Tessier’s stay with the Lemberger family:http://host.madison.com/news/local/doug_moe/doug-moe-tragedy-leads-to-answers-for-family/article_da32dd3e-0381-11e2-8655-001a4bcf887a.html

3. The Defense Motion 10.12.11:Defense Motion 10.12.11

4.  LA Times December 6, 2007: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thedailymirror/2007/12/girl-kidnapped.html

5. Spokane Daily Chronicle, 12/4/1957, time of abduction about 7 p.m.:https://docs.google.com/file/d/0By6pJVDDKQ-bT1hVZXEyRDZKaFE/edit?usp=sharing

6.  Seattle Times, 12/14/2012: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/How-Seattle-police-helped-solve-nation-s-oldest-4116762.php#ixzz2LkVUaJnA

7.  Seattle Times 7/12/2011: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2015588899_apus1957killingrecords4thldwritethru.html

8.  Chicago Tribune 11/8/2011:


9.  Charging papers: Charging_Papers

10.  Trial transcript – Available from: Sandra Foord [sandy-foord@comcast.net], Official Court Reporter, DeKalb County Courthouse


Contact information:

Casey Porter: Casey1167@gmail.com

Janey O’connor: janeyoconnor77@gmail.com

Janet Tessier: braingirljan@yahoo.com

Jeanne Tessier: jeannemtessier@yahoo.com

Clay Campbell Law offices: (815) 786-7770, (815) 899-1400

Julie Trevarthen: (630) 337-8102  jtrevarthen@blass-law.com