Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, of Mounds View, Minnesota, was arrested on June 2 for the 1972 killing of Julie Ann Hanson, a 15-year-old resident of Naperville, Illinois, according to the Naperville Police Department.
“This horrific crime has haunted this family, this community and this department for 49 years,” said Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall. “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.”
On July 8, 1972, Hanson borrowed her brother’s bicycle to go to a baseball game and never returned home, said Marshall during a news conference. She was reported missing to the Naperville police and her body was discovered later that day in a field with multiple stab wounds.
A suspect in the case was not immediately identified. But after 49 years of continued investigation, authorities were led to an arrest through technological advancements in DNA and genetic genealogy analysis, Marshall said
“This was never a cold case for our police department,” Marshall said. “We were all conscious of Julie’s murder looking for the killer and we had Julie’s picture on our desks and investigations for all these years.”
At the time of the Hanson’s killing, Whelpley was 27 years old and lived within one mile of Hanson’s home, police said.
Authorities said they could not give details on the DNA evidence leading to the arrest to avoid jeopardizing the prosecution of the case.
“We can’t go into the specifics,” said Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow. “I think probably everybody in the media is aware of this procedure, and these detectives used it with great expertise, and resulted in the charges being filed here today.”
Whelpley, a retired welder, was taken into custody in Ramsey County, Minnesota, where he is awaiting extradition to Illinois, police said.m
The Will County State’s Attorney Office has charged Whelpley with three counts of first-degree murder with a bond set at $10 million.
The Hanson family said in a statement that they are grateful to all who have worked on the case throughout the years, according to police.
As of Friday evening, it was unclear if Whelpley had obtained an attorney.