Prime Suspect In Nearly 50-Year-Old Naperville Murder Case Pleads Not Guilty

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The prime suspect in the 1972 killing of 15-year-old Naperville resident Julie Ann Hanson pleaded not guilty to her murder on Thursday.

76-year-old Barry Lee Whelpley, a resident of Mounds View, Minnesota, was formally indicted in the case on Thursday morning, June 24. Whelpley was arrested on June 2 and extradited from Minnesota to the custody of the Will County Sheriff’s Office a week later; his bond set at $10 million.

Formal Murder Indictment

Whelpley appeared at the Will County Courthouse not for a full trial, but a preliminary hearing to clarify the state’s charges against him. He was formally indicted on three counts of first degree murder, each carrying a minimum 20 year sentence. He entered a plea of “not guilty” for all of them.

With the not guilty plea, the case now heads to trial – almost 50 years after Hanson’s death.

Next Steps

Whelpley’s first pre-trial date was set for Thursday, August 26 of this year. It will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet. If convicted on even one of the three murder counts he faces, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. While he waits for the trial to begin, Whelpley remains in Will County Sheriff custody with a bond of $10 million.

Whelpley’s trial represents the end of almost 50 years of investigation into Julie Ann Hanson’s murder. Hanson disappeared July 8, 1972, after she borrowed her brother’s bike to go to a baseball game and didn’t come home. Police said they found her body later that day in a field in Naperville near 87th Street and Modaff Road. She had been stabbed multiple times.

Police said they were able to tie Whelpley to her death with the use of more advanced genetic evidence analysis than existed in the 1970s.

Naperville News 17’s David Byrnes reports.

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