She went for a ride with Jack Daniel McCullough in 1962 because he was driving a flashy red-and-white convertible, but said she instantly realized she’d made a mistake.
“Once the car was in motion, he became silent and he began to drive with great intensity. I knew I had made a terrible mistake, I knew I was in danger,” the now 64-year-old former Sycamore woman said Tuesday as McCullough’s rape trial opened.
McCullough – then a 22-year-old Sycamore resident known as John Tessier – drove her to the rented house where he lived and raped her on a cot in a darkened bedroom, the woman testified.
Her voice shaking, the woman – who was 14 at the time of the alleged attack – testified that as three of his roommates returned to the house, he invited them to assault her. Two of the men did, she said, pausing several times to wipe tears from her eyes.
McCullough, a 72-year-old former cop, was charged only last year with raping the woman a half-century ago – and that charge was filed several months after he already had been arrested for a notorious 1957 murder in the same DeKalb County town.
Maria Ridulph, a 7-year-old Sycamore girl, vanished on Dec. 3, 1957 while playing near her home. Her body was found about five months later in northwestern Illinois.
The alleged rape for which McCullough is now on trial resulted from the investigation that also led to him being charged with kidnapping and killing Ridulph – offenses for which he still is awaiting trial.
Defense attorneys argued there is no evidence supporting the allegations that McCullough attacked the teenager, including any indication that he owned or drove a convertible.
“There is no corroboration he ever did this,” argued defense attorney Robert Carlson, who said the claims by the woman are “one person’s story.”
A one-time resident of the rental home where authorities said McCullough lived testified he never saw McCullough drive a car or bring a girl to the house. James Gassaway, in fact, said McCullough did not live at the house full-time, but sometimes stayed there.
Questioned by McCullough’s attorneys, the woman said she remembered few details about the purported attack or the other men involved.
“They were young men, they were larger than me,” she added.
The woman said she asked McCullough for a ride because he was a relative and she liked the car he was driving.
“I’d never had a ride in a convertible before,” said the woman, who is now retired after working as a teacher and hospital chaplain.
A second woman testified that McCullough assaulted her in 1982 when she was 14 years old and briefly lived at his apartment with a friend.
She trusted McCullough initially because he was a local police officer, but said within a few weeks of moving into the apartment, he started acting “a little creepy.”
The woman, now 46, said McCullough assaulted her one night as she slept on a couch in his living room while her friend slept nearby on a second couch.
McCullough was arrested within days and charged with statutory rape, according to court records, but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of unlawful communication with a minor and received a one-year suspended jail sentence.