Illinois investigators finally captured the suspect accused of a murder that’s gone unsolved for nearly five decades.
The Naperville Police Department announced the latest development in the nearly 50-year-old case in a press release last week.
Julie Ann Hanson was 15 when she was reported missing on July 8, 1972, and her body was discovered the same day, the release states. Hanson was found with multiple stab wounds in a Naperville field near 87th Street and Modaff Road.
“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.”
Marshall added, according to CNN, that Hanson’s “was never a cold case for our police department.” Investigators remained “conscious of Julie’s murder, looking for the killer.” Her picture remained on their desks for years, he said.
Watch a press conference addressing the breakthrough here.
Naperville detectives weren’t able to immediately identify a suspect in 1972, but have continued the investigation for nearly 50 years. Police credited DNA and genetic genealogy advancements for the recent breakthrough in the long-unsolved homicide case.
It wasn’t immediately clear what DNA evidence led to an arrest.
But that’s how investigators zeroed in on Barry Lee Whelpley, 76.
The Mounds View, Minnesota, man lived within a mile of Hanson’s home at the time of the murder. He was 27 at the time.
Authorities arrested Whelpley in Minnesota and will extradite him back to Illinois. The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office is charging him with three counts of first-degree murder. His bond was set at $10 million, the Naperville Police Department release states.
Anyone with additional information about the murder should contact the Naperville Police Department Investigations Division at 630-420-6665.
Photo: Naperville Police Department