A retired Minnesota welder has been charged in the brutal 1972 stabbing death of a Naperville teenager, officials said Friday.
Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 15-year-old Julie Ann Hanson and is being held in a Minnesota jail, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said during a news conference.
A spokeswoman for the Will County State’s Attorney’s office said Whelpley will be extradited back to Illinois but couldn’t give a timeline of when he will arrive. On Friday, his bond was set at $10 million.
Whelpley was 27 at the time Hanson was killed and lived within a mile of Hanson’s home.
Glasgow and Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall offered few details about what led to the arrest and charges, saying only that it was “tremendous advancements in the DNA testing” and “geneaology.”
“These investigators, with all the beating that law enforcement is taking in the media every day, this is what it’s all about. Fund the police, don’t de-fund the police,” Glasgow said. “These officers have stayed in touch with the families and have finally been able to give them what they’ve been hoping for all these years.”
Hanson was last seen riding away from her home on a bicycle in the summer of 1972. The bike was found July 8 on a gravel road near 87th Street. The teenager’s body was found nearby. She had been stabbed 36 times and sexually assaulted, investigators said at the time.
“Unfortunately, the offender was not immediately found and our department never in five decades ever gave up in looking for Julie’s killer,” Marshall said. “The last 49 years, we’ve chased many leads, identified many suspects and all were eliminated through the exhaustive investigation of our detectives.”
Marshall said the case was not a “cold” one, and it was one detectives continually investigated.
“We had Julie’s picture on our desks in investigations for all these years,” Marshall said.
Marshall read a statement from the Hanson family: “As you might assume, it has been a long journey for our family. We are forever grateful for all those who have worked on this case throughout the many years.”
Contributing: Manny Ramos