Attorney for man charged with 1972 murder of Naperville teen seeks cashless bail

Barry Lee Whelpley
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The attorney for a Minnesota man who is accused of sexually assaulting, stabbing, and murdering a teenage girl nearly 50 years ago in Naperville hopes Illinois’ new cashless bail rules will free his client while he awaits trial.

Cashless bail for Whelpley

Defense attorney Terry Ekl has filed a motion to vacate the bail of Barry Lee Whelpley, 78, who is charged with aggravated sexual assault and first-degree murder in the death of 15-year-old Naperville girl Julie Ann Hanson in 1972.

Under the SAFE-T Act, Illinois will become the first state to abolish cash bail on Sept. 18. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in July that the end of cash bail was constitutional, voting 5-2 in favor of ending bail as a condition on pretrial release.

The SAFE-T Act states Illinois judges can decide whether a defender poses “a significant threat to a specific individual or community” when weighing if they should be held in custody before trial.

Cashless bail for Whelpley is set to be argued on Sept. 26 before Will County Judge David Carlson.

Ekl told NBC5 Chicago in a statement, “He’s been charged with a murder which took place almost 50 years ago. Whelpley is 78 and there’s no evidence he’s engaged in any recent criminal conduct. Consequently, the prosecution cannot establish he’s a present danger to the community and is entitled to be released.”

Prosecutors will submit a written response to Ekl’s motion later this month.

1972 incident

Authorities say Hanson was riding her bike to her brother’s baseball game when she disappeared on July 7, 1972.

The next day her body was found in a field near Modaff Road and 87th Street. She had been stabbed more than 30 times, the coroner said.

The case remained unsolved until 2021 when authorities found DNA evidence linking Whelpley to the crime. 

Whelpley was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder, with his bail set at $10 million. He has since been in custody at the Will County jail.

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