Breakthrough in 1972 Murder
This morning, the Naperville Police Department and Will County State’s Attorney’s Office announced a breakthrough in a nearly 50-year-old case of the murder of 15-year-old Naperville resident Julie Ann Hanson.
At a news conference in city hall, police said 76-year-old Barry Lee Whelpley has been arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He was arrested on June 2 in Minnesota where he is a retired welder. He is now awaiting extradition to Illinois. His bond was set at $10 million.
“Unfortunately the offender was not immediately found and our department never, in five decades, gave up looking for Julie’s killer. The last 49 years we’ve chased many leads, identified many suspects, and all were eliminated through the exhaustive investigation by our detectives,” said Naperville Police Chief Bob Marshall. “People often call these type of cases cold cases. This was never a cold case for our police department. We continually investigated this case throughout those 49 years.”
What Happened to Julie?
On July 8, 1972 Hanson borrowed her brother’s bike to go to a baseball game, but didn’t return home. Police said they found Hanson’s body with multiple stab wounds later that day in a field in Naperville near 87th Street and Modaff Road.
“This brutal crime haunted our community for many, many, many years,” said Marshall.
Authorities couldn’t give out specifics but said it was thanks to technological advancements in DNA and genetic genealogy analysis that they had this breakthrough.
Whelpley was 27 at the time of Hanson’s murder. He was a former Naperville resident on the 600 block of S. Wehrli Road, within a mile of the Hanson’s home, according to police.
“These officers have stayed in touch with the families and finally able to give them what they’ve been hoping for all these years,” said Will County State’s Attorney James Glasglow.
Members of the Hanson family were also at the news conference. In a statement, read by Marshall, they said: “As you might assume it has been a long journey for our family. We are forever grateful to all those who have worked on this case throughout the many years.”
The Naperville Police Department reminds the public that a charge is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
photo courtesy: Naperville Police Department