Monday, June 05, 2017

Mystery Monday: Maria Ridulph

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...



Today's mystery takes us back to a time when kids could freely play outside. No strange men lurked nearby to bring harm to them. Everything was safe in 1957.

Or was it?

Maria Ridulph was the 7-year-old daughter of a factory worker and a stay-at-home mom. Her best friend was 8-year-old Kathy Sigman, who lived on the same street as Maria.


Maria (left) and Kathy. Image credit: CBS News

After dinner on December 3, 1957, Maria and Kathy went outside to play in the snow. They were playing a game when a tall, slender man approached and introduced himself as Johnny. After mentioning he was married, he offered to give them piggyback rides.



After her piggyback ride, Maria ran back to her house to get a doll to show him. She returned and Kathy left to get a pair of mittens. When Kathy returned, Maria and the man were both gone. Her doll was found nearby, but Maria was never seen alive again.



Sadly, nearly five months later, Maria's remains were discovered in a wooded area 100 miles away. The initial autopsy couldn't determine a cause of death due to the decomposition of the body, but 50 years later, a forensic expert determined she'd been stabbed multiple times in the throat.



That newer autopsy was part of a reopening of the case in 2008, after a deathbed confession from Jack McCullough's mother. McCullough was a military veteran and former police officer who was 18 years old at the time of Maria's disappearance.



In 2012, a judge (without a jury) convicted McCullough of the case. At the time it made news as the oldest known cold case to ever be solved. Unfortunately, the conviction didn't hold up. McCullough was proven to be 40 miles away from the scene the night of Maria's disappearance. The conviction was overturned in 2016.



There was one other primary suspect in the case, but he died in 1992. William Henry Redmond was a former truck driver and carnival worker who was also a suspect in the high-profile unsolved disappearance of Beverly Potts. Beverly disappeared in 1951.



In fact, Redmond is suspected to have been a serial killer during that time, with his job as a carnie giving him access to young girls in each of the towns he visited.



Do you think Maria Ridulph's disappearance will ever be solved?

32 comments:

  1. They'll probably never catch her killer, but at least they know what happened to her. Not knowing would be the worst.

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    1. That would be. Beverly Potts was never found...that's a pretty haunting story, as well.

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  2. Sounds like we know who did it but not sure that it will ever be solved. Such a sad story.

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    1. Before he died, he supposedly told someone in jail there had been "other murders." At least he went to jail...but since he's dead, they've probably just set the case aside. It would be nice if they could give her survivors some kind of closure.

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  3. Hi Steph - oh gosh ... so difficult - and so desperate for the families. Both stories are not good ... cruel and unfair ... let's hope for a better week - Hilary

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    1. Definitely hope for a better week!

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  4. It seems like it's been so long that I'm not sure that they'll discover the culprit, unless there's a real confession. So, so sad and frightening.

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    1. I hear a lot of cases like that. I think, "It's been so long..." And I know there are advancements in DNA that have solved some cold cases, but it's going to take a LOT of advancements! There is someone who supposedly has come up with technology that can supposedly create an entire picture of someone's face based on their DNA. That might make a huge difference, if that actually works.

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  5. I wonder why McCullough's mother thought he did it, and why he changed his name (I clicked on the link to the CNN story).

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. That whole thing is weird. I followed along on a podcast recently and was convinced he did it...and then they revealed he didn't. I was all, "Are you KIDDING ME?" I felt like I'd been taken on an emotional roller coaster. I wonder, too, why his mom said that. And it made me wonder just how SURE they are he didn't... But they seem pretty certain.

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    2. I read more about the case. His mom was dying from cancer and was on heavy-duty meds when she made the statement to her daughter, who said that her half-brother Jack molested her when she was growing up. She was the one who brought the statement to the attention of the police. Jack was also arrested for molesting a runaway teenager; that's why he lost his job as a police officer. He says he changed his name to honor his mother's family. I'm not convinced that he didn't do it, in spite of the collect call that he made to his family's house the evening that Maria disappeared.

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  6. Sadly--probably not. Too many years gone by. She would have been a year older than me and I am 66. The carnie guy would have the perfect cover for serial killing. Doesn't say why they suspected him, though. It's a shame when they never know and don't even find a body to bury.

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    1. He's suspected in a list of cases. He was jailed for (I think?) one of the cases and he told someone in jail before he died that they may have gotten him on that case, but they'd never get him for the other girls. With him being dead, I'm wondering just how hard they're working to link him to all those cases.

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  7. This blog always looks so sweet and then I visit and walk right into a gut punch. Don't get me wrong, these stories are fascinating!!! But always unexpected.

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  8. Beverly is absolutely beautiful. So sad and tragic. My heart goes out to their families, especially the cold cases where the body is never found. I don't think I'd ever give up hope....

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  9. The serial killer theory is valid. There's been a few who traveled and while on the road killed.

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  10. This is so very sad and just shows that this happened back then as it does now and shows how much we must emphasize to children never to talk to strangers who want to take them away to show the, a new puppy or whatever. Do they have any DNA evidence at all to place the other carnie guy with this girl?? Could they talk to any survivors whom he may have spoken to?? I'm just wondering.

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  11. These unsolved cases are so heart-wrenching. This case is definitely strange and disturbing all around. Sadly, I do not believe that the truth will ever be revealed.

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  12. A sad story. Kathy was a lucky girl she wasn't taken too. I doubt they will ever know the killer's identity.

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  13. Back in the day, we all hung outside until it got dark, and all the parents sort of watched out for each others kids. It never occurred to any of that we could be kidnapped or hurt during that time. This whole situation with that little girl is crazy, and it may never be solved. To think she was hurt so violently is so sad. Killers today seem to be so much more open with their crimes of taking and hurting kids.

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  14. Solved or not, my heart goes out to her family. What a painful experience. And to her friend, that must have been really traumatizing.

    Why do monsters like that suspect ever lurk this earth freely? Sigh.

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  15. After all these years it's doubtful the crime will ever be solved. People who might know are likely dead. Or if they've kept quiet for so long, why would they confess now? It's sad that there is such evil in the world.

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  16. A terribly sad story. You would think a death bed confession would have been strong enough. I hope her relatives are comforted by the fact her case is still being investigated, but they may never know.

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  17. Such sad and tragic stories. Likely unsolvable at this point. Heartbreaking to think about.

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  18. Sadly, I don't think it will ever be solved. Too much time has gone by and the people involved are deceased now. :(

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  19. I wish for everyone's sake it would. It breaks my heart. It reminds me very much of the story Lovely Bones. I can only imagine the pain she felt being stabbed like that.

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