Barry Lee Whelpley of Mounds View, Minnesota, was arrested by the Naperville Police Department on Wednesday for the 1972 murder of Julie Ann Hanson. The retired welder, who was 27 years old at the time of the murder, has been charged with murder and in custody. in Minnesota, where he awaits his extradition to Illinois. It was not clear if he has a lawyer.
The girl was reported missing on July 8, 1972, after she was last seen leaving her home on a bicycle. His body was discovered later that day in a field in Naperville. She had been stabbed 36 times and sexually assaulted, investigators said at the time.
No suspects were immediately identified and Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said that over the years, the suspects who were identified were “all eliminated through thorough investigation by our detectives.”
The breakthrough in the case came through technological advancements in DNA analysis and genetic genealogy, police said. Hence came the scientific evidence pointing to Whelpley, a 1964 Naperville High School graduate who lived a mile from the girl’s home at the time of the murder.
“This horrible crime has haunted this family, this community and this department for 49 years,” Marshall said. “The investigation and the resulting charges were truly a team effort that spanned decades, and I couldn’t be more proud of the determination and resourcefulness of our investigators, both past and present, who never gave up on Julie.”
Will County State Attorney James Glasgow said detectives, who continued to work on the case over the years, stayed in contact with the girl’s family. Finally, they were able to “give them what they have been waiting for all these years,” he said.
And at the press conference, Marshall read a statement in which the family expressed their gratitude.
“As you can guess, it has been a long journey for our family. We will always be grateful to all those who have worked on this case for so many years.”