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?