June 5 (UPI) — A Minnesota man has been arrested on three counts of first-degree murder tied to the fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old girl in Naperville, Ill., decades ago.
The Naperville Police Department arrested Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, of Mounds View, Minn., on Wednesday in connection with the fatal stabbing of 15-year-old resident Julie Hanson in 1972, according to a police statement.
Hanson was reported missing on July 8, 1972, and her body was discovered later that day in a field, the statement said. She was deceased and had stabbed multiple times.
At the time, Whelpley, then age 27, lived within a mile of Hanson’s residence, according to police.
Whelpley has been taken into custody in Minnesota while awaiting extradition to Illinois, according to the statement. The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office has charged him with three counts of first-degree murder and set bond at $10 million.
Naperville detectives had been investigating the case for nearly 50 years and the recent breakthrough resulted from advancement in DNA and genetic genealogy analysis, the statement said.
“The horrific crime has haunted this family, this community and this department for 49 years,” Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said in the 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.”
Will’s County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow, age 70, said at a press conference Friday that Hanson was one of three girls brutally murdered in the 1970s in the Naperville area. Roberta Anderson, also age 15, was killed in the area in 1973 and Margaret Stirn, age 18, was murdered in 1978.
In 1992, Major Morris was charged and convicted with Anderson’s murder, and later he was convicted of murdering Stirn. Morris was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison and is still incarcerated, Glasgow said at the press conference.
“Many people in law enforcement felt that he was the one who killed Julie Ann Hanson, but not these guys, these guys never rested, never put the file to the side, always kept working and when new technologies came along, they availed themselves, and it didn’t happen overnight,” Glasgow said.
“It took time, and a lot of hard work,” Glasgow said. “The three charges that have been filed are first degree murder based on the statute in 1972, and they’re three different theories of murder, different theories for a jury to consider,” Glasgow said. He added that additional charges may arise as investigation continues.