Advancements in DNA analysis have led to the arrest of a 76-year-old Minnesota man, who is accused of killing a 15-year-old Illinois girl nearly 50 years ago.
Barry Lee Whelpley, of Mounds View, was arrested on June 2 in Minnesota and is awaiting extradition to Illinois, a news release says. Whelpley, a retired welder who was 27 at the time of the killing, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the killing of Julie Ann Hanson.
Julie was reported missing on July 8, 1972, a day after she borrowed her brother's bike to go to a baseball game but never returned home, Naperville police said at a news conference Friday.
An extensive search was put together to find Julie. The bike she borrowed was soon found off a gravel road near 87th Street the day she was reported missing.
Her body was discovered nearby in a field near 87th Street and Modaff Road. Julie had been stabbed 36 times and was sexually assaulted.
Police launched an investigation to find her killer, but no suspect was immediately identified.
“People often call these type of cases cold cases. This was never a cold case for our police department. We continually investigated this case throughout those 49 years," Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said during a news conference.
A breakthrough in the case came recently thanks to technological advancements in DNA and genetic genealogy analysis, which led investigators to Whelpley, police said. Officials would not share more about the procedures that were used to identify Whelpley.
At the time of Julie's death, Whelpley lived in Naperville within a mile of the Hanson's home.
“This horrific crime has haunted this family, this community and this department for 49 years,” Marshall said in a statement. “The investigation and resulting charges were truly a team effort that spanned decades, and I could not be more proud of the determination and resourcefulness of our investigators, both past and present, who never gave up on Julie.”
Whelpley's bond was set at $10 million.
Naperville is about 28 miles west of Chicago, Illinois, and has a population of about 145,000 people.