It has been 49 years since the body of 15-year-old Julie Ann Hanson was found in a cornfield in Naperville, Illinois. Now, thanks to technological advancements in genetic genealogy, an arrest has finally been made for the 1972 murder.
On Wednesday, Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, of Mounds View, Minnesota, was arrested, according to a press release by the Naperville Police Department.
“This horrific crime has haunted this family, this community and this department for 49 years,” said Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall in the statement. “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 Ann Hanson was reported missing by her sister a day after the teen borrowed her brother’s bicycle to attend one of his baseball games. Hanson’s parents weren't home at the time. Later that day, Hanson’s body was found in a cornfield near 87th Street and Modaff Road. Someone had sexually assaulted the teenager and stabbed her 36 times, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
Both her parents are now deceased, according to the New York Times.
The specifics of how police narrowed in on Barry Whelpley, who was 27 at the time of the murder, have not been released. However, police said they “used the services of Identifinders International LLC,” according to the New York Post. Identifinders International LLC, based in California, uses genetic genealogy to aid law enforcement in solving cases.
Genetic genealogy combines DNA analysis/profiling and genealogy, an advancing scientific method becoming increasingly prevalent in law enforcement. Most famously, it helped lead authorities in identifying the Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo.
Police did not elaborate on the source of DNA that was collected from Hanson’s crime scene.
The accused lived within one mile of the Hanson residence. Police would not comment as to whether or not he knew the Hanson family.
“This is something that I never expected to be standing here, talking to you today,” said Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow in a press conference, referring to the work of investigators. “These officers have stayed in touch with the families and finally have been able to give them what they’d been hoping for all these years.”
The Will County State’s Attorney Office is charging Whelpley with three counts of first-degree murder. His bail is set at $10 million as he awaits extradition to Illinois.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for Oxygen Insider for all the best true crime content.