A 78-year-old man in custody after advances in DNA and genetic genealogy analysis connected him with the 1972 cold-case murder of a teenage girl in Illinois recently attempted to use a new state act to gain pretrial release.
Barry Lee Whelpley, of Mounds View, Minnesota, was taken into custody in late spring 2021 and accused of the then-nearly 50-year-old killing of 15-year-old Julie Ann Hanson, according to Naperville police.
On July 8, 1972, Hanson went missing in Naperville, Illinois. Later that day, her body was found in a field. Police also recovered the bike she was riding at the time to go to her brother's baseball game. She had suffered over 35 stab wounds.
Detectives continued to work the case over the decades but were never able to name a suspect until genetic genealogy allegedly led to Whelpley, according to police.
According to authorities, the suspect was 27 years old and lived within a mile of the victim’s home in Naperville when she died.
“This horrific crime has haunted this family, this community and this department for 49 years,” Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said of the longtime investigation and resulting charges.
He added: “ I could not be more proud of the determination and resourcefulness of our investigators, both past and present, who never gave up on Julie.”
Whelpley faces first-degree murder charges and his bond was set at $10 million.
While he is being held in lieu of $10 million bail in the Will County jail, earlier this month, Whelpley's defense attorneys petitioned for his release under the recently passed Illinois SAFE-T Act, which eliminates bond and bail in some criminal cases.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Defense attorney Terry Ekl pointed out, in part, Whelpley's deteriorating health and advanced age in his client's request to be released ahead of trial.
After a review of the murder case as well as other evidence, Will County Judge David Carlson ruled the defendant should remain in custody until the case goes to trial.
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