The 48 Hours episode “Cold as Ice” investigates the December 3, 1957 abduction and murder of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph. She was playing in the snow outside her home in Sycamore, Illinois with her friend Kathy (née Sigman) Chapman when she was taken. Chapman told police that a young man had offered them piggyback rides. When Maria jumped on the man’s back, Chapman said she went home to get mittens but when she returned Maria and the man were gone. Months later, the remains of Maria were found in a forest. 48 Hours correspondent Erin Moriarty interviews Maria’s brother Chuck Ridulph who says “The FBI had a real presence. They stayed right in our house [during the investigation].” Moriarty also reads from the diary kept by Maria’s 15-year-old sister Kay during the initial investigation.
Fifty-four years after Maria’s murder, in 2011, a neighbor of the Ridulph family, Jack “Johnny” McCullough, was arrested for Maria’s murder. McCullough was cleared as a suspect in the 1950s but became a suspect again in 2008 when his half-sister Janet Tessier told police that Jack’s mother on her deathbed said she believed her son might have killed Maria. After being found guilty by a jury, McCullough was sentenced to life in prison. However, evidence supporting Jack McCullough’s alibi — he said he was 40 miles away, enlisting in the Air Force — was kept out of the trial. After serving four years of his sentence, the 76-year-old McCullough was released from prison and declared innocent of the crime in 2017. 48 Hours airs Saturdays at 9pm and 10pm on CBS.