She Was Stabbed and Left in a Cornfield in 1972. Now There’s an Arrest.

For practically 50 years, the homicide of Julie Ann Hanson, who was 15 when she was stabbed to dying and her physique was found in a cornfield, baffled investigators in a Chicago suburb.

Detectives got here and went, chasing leads and a checklist of potential suspects that by no means fairly panned out.

But then a breakthrough in the unsolved case got here final week, when the police in Naperville, Ill., introduced that that they had arrested a Minnesota man in the 1972 killing.

The man, Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, who lived inside a mile of Julie’s house on the time that she was kidnapped, was taken into custody final Wednesday and charged with three counts of first-degree homicide, the authorities stated.

The police stated that genetic family tree had related Mr. Whelpley, a retired welder who was 27 on the time, to the crime. They wouldn’t elaborate on the precise dynamics of what led investigators to him, saying that they didn’t wish to compromise their case in opposition to Mr. Whelpley, who’s being held on $10 million bond.

“This was never a cold case for our police department,” Robert Marshall, the Naperville police chief, stated throughout a information convention on Friday. “We were all conscious of Julie’s murder, looking for the killer.”

It was not instantly clear if Mr. Whelpley, of Mounds View, Minn., had a lawyer. The authorities had been ready to extradite him to Illinois.

The breakthrough, like greater than 40 different arrests in long-unsolved instances, is as soon as once more being attributed to the science of genetic family tree. The most notable such case led to the arrest of the so-called Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo. He was sentenced to life in jail with out parole for 13 murders and practically 50 rapes that terrorized California in the 1970s and ’80s.

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Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, was charged with three counts of first-degree homicide in the killing of 15-year-old Julie Ann Hanson practically half a century in the past.Credit…Naperville Police Department, through Associated Press

Genetic family tree sometimes includes crosschecking DNA proof with ancestry information, together with these on fashionable ancestry database web sites. Chief Marshall stated that a number of personal labs and firms had helped with the investigation, which spanned the careers of a variety of detectives.

“This brutal crime haunted our community for many, many, many years,” he stated.

On July 7, 1972, Julie borrowed her brother’s bike to go to a baseball recreation and by no means returned house, the authorities stated. She was reported lacking the following day, and her physique was discovered in a cornfield in Naperville, which is about 30 miles west of Chicago.

Julie’s mother and father have died, however different members of the family, a few of whom attended the information convention on Friday, thanked investigators in a assertion that was learn by Chief Marshall.

“As you might assume, it has been a long journey for our family,” the assertion stated. “We are forever grateful to all those who have worked on this case throughout the many years.”

James W. Glasgow, the state’s legal professional for Will County, stated that Julie’s case was the final of three murders of women in the Naperville space in the 1970s that investigators had been in a position to resolve.

“So we have lived these crimes,” Mr. Glasgow stated. “They’ve been over our shoulder our entire careers.”

Although there was hypothesis that the person convicted in the opposite two murders had additionally killed Julie, investigators didn’t imagine that was the case, he stated.

“These guys never rested,” he stated of the investigators, “never put the file to the side.”