There is something about the mystery behind a cold case that incites curiosity and concern. We know someone has committed a horrible crime and got away with it. But then there are a handful of cases where the very long arm of the law catches up with these criminals to deliver justice, no matter how long ago they committed the crime.
One such case was the abduction and murder of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph on December 3, 1957. Her disappearance shocked not just the quiet town of Sycamore, Illinois, but also the whole country. Her decomposing body was found in April of 1958, about 100 miles from where she was taken.
At around 6:00 pm on December 3, 1957, Maria and her friend Kathy Sigman went outside to play in the newly fallen snow. A young man calling himself "Johnny" approached them and asked if they liked piggyback rides. When police questioned Kathy, she described the man as about 18 to 20 years old, tall with blonde hair and a gap-toothed smile. He then gave Maria a piggyback ride as Kathy ran home to get her mittens. By the time she got back, Maria and "Johnny" were gone.
An 18-year-old high school student named John Tessier was an initial suspect. He lived around the corner from the Ridulph home. John was also blonde with a noticeable gap between his front teeth. When investigators visited his mother, she said that he was home the night of the abduction. John, however, said he was in Chicago to sign up for the US Air Force that day and arrived late that night. However, his sisters Katherine and Jeanne later testified that their mother had lied since Tessier was not home that night.
At the time, he seemed like the perfect suspect - on paper. But after being thoroughly investigated by the FBI, John was taken off the suspect list. The next day, he left Sycamore to start Air Force basic training. The case then remained unsolved for the next 55 years. However, in 2008, after series of events, the case reopened which led to the arrest of the murderer of Maria Ridulph.
Cold cases, particularly unsolved murders, are fascinating. They bring us into the realm of the unknown, inviting us to speculate and play detective so we can tell others the story of what happened. However, keep in mind that there's more than one way to tell a story and, of course, not to believe everything is accurate.
Directed by: Matt Orchard