Tacoma officers checking Seattle man held in ’57 case

Tacoma police are checking the background of a 71-year-old Seattle man arrested recently in the abduction and slaying of a Illinois girl more than 50 years ago to see whether he is tied to any unsolved local cases.

So far, nothing links Jack Daniel McCullough to any of Tacoma’s unsolved homicides, police spokesman Mark Fulghum said Tuesday.

Investigators will wait to see if DNA testing sheds new light on his possible involvement.

McCullough, a former Milton police officer, is being held in Seattle on $3 million bail in the 1957 abduction and slaying of Maria Ridulph, 7.

The girl disappeared while playing outside with a friend in Sycamore, Ill., about 50 miles west of Chicago.

A young man known as Johnny had offered to give the girls a piggyback ride. The friend ran home and never saw Maria again. Two people foraging for mushrooms found her remains four months later.

McCullough, who lived less than two blocks from Maria’s home, generally fit the description of the man who approached the girls and was suspected in Maria’s disappearance.

McCullough, then known as John Tessier, said he was on a train the day of the abduction. Last year, investigators reinterviewed McCullough’s girlfriend at the time and asked her to search through personal items. She found an unused train ticket from the day Maria went missing.

McCullough joined the Air Force a short time later. He moved to Washington.

His history as a police officer in Puget Sound is murky.

The probable-cause affidavit states McCullough worked as a police officer in Lacey and in the early 1980s in Milton.

The affidavit, citing an interview with a victim of McCullough’s, states that while McCullough worked for Milton, he was arrested and charged in Pierce County in 1983 with sexual assault.

Searches of records from that period reveal no Pierce County court case tied to McCullough’s name, or to John Tessier, the name he used in Illinois.

Milton Police Chief Bill Rhoads said Tuesday he was searching for old personnel records tied to McCullough. McCullough’s connection to the Lacey Police Department is unconfirmed.

Rhoads said his early inquiries suggest McCullough resigned rather than being fired.

A source close to Milton government said the incident that led to McCullough’s resignation revolved around photos McCullough took of an underage girl who was a relative of a city council member.

Confronted with the information, the source said, McCullough resigned.

Most recently, McCullough has been working as a night watchman at a retirement home in North Seattle where he lives with his wife.

He faces extradition to Illinois to faces charges in the 1957 slaying.

Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268 stacey.mulick

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486 sean.robinson