49 years after, Illinois police make an arrest in the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl

Julie Ann Hanson and Barry Lee Whelpley. Photo (Naperville Police)
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Illinois police on Friday charged a man in the death of a teenage girl whose body was found in a field in 1972 stabbed multiple times.

Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, of Mounds View, Minnesota, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon June 2 for the murder of Julie Ann Hanson, a 15-year-old resident of Naperville, Illinois, according to the Naperville Police Department. He was charged by the Will County state’s attorney’s office with three counts of first-degree murder with a bond set at $10 million.

“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.”

Julie was a high school student when she disappeared on July 8, 1972.

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The next afternoon, her older sister reported that Julie was missing; their parents were reportedly not home at the time of her disappearance. Julie’s body was discovered later that day in a cornfield in Naperville near 87th Street and Modaff Road, a little more than two miles from her home.

Officer, Marshall said during a news conference on Friday that Hanson borrowed her brother’s bicycle to go to a baseball game but never returned home. She was reported missing to the Naperville police and her body was discovered later that day in a field with multiple stab wounds.

Hanson was abducted, raped and stabbed 36 times, according to the report.

Unfortunately, the killer was not immediately found, and the police department never gave up, Marshall said. After forty-nine years of continued investigation, authorities were led to an arrest through technological advancements in DNA and genetic genealogy analysis, Marshall said.

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They used the services of Identifinders International LLC, a California firm that specializes in forensic genetic genealogy investigations, according to Daily Herald.

“This was never a cold case for our police department,” Marshall said in the press conference posted on Facebook. “We were all conscious of Julie’s murder looking for the killer and we had Julie’s picture on our desks and investigations for all these years.”

The suspect, Whelpley, was 27 years old at that time and lived on the 600 block of Wehrli Road in Naperville, within a mile of the girl’s home, police said.

Authorities said they could not give details on the DNA evidence leading to the arrest to avoid jeopardizing the prosecution of the case.

“We can’t go into the specifics,” said Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow. “I think probably everybody in the media is aware of this procedure, and these detectives used it with great expertise, and resulted in the charges being filed here today.”

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Whelpley, a retired welder, was taken into custody in Ramsey County, Minnesota, where he is awaiting extradition to Illinois, police said.

The Hanson family said in a statement that they are grateful to all who have worked on the case throughout the years, according to police.

Not much was said about Whelpley at the news conference, other than he worked as a welder. Daily Herald reports that DuPage County court records shows that Whelpley was married in 1965 and worked for an Aurora company. The couple had two daughters. That wife divorced him in 1975, citing adultery.

He remarried, but that wife divorced him in 1982. Minnesota court records indicate he was divorced from another woman in 1999.

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