Naperville, IL

50-year-old Illinois cold case closed

Wess Haubrich

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Julie Ann HansonNaperville Police

Score another one for familial DNA and genetic genealogy.

A 76-year-old Minnesota man has been arrested in the 1972 rape and murder of 15-year-old babysitter and all-around well-liked teenager Julie Ann Hanson of the Chicago suburb of Naperville.

Barry Lee Whelpley of Mounds View, Minnesota (about six hours northwest of Naperville, on the border with western Wisconsin) was arrested last Wednesday. He currently awaits extradition to Will County, Illinois to face three charges of first-degree murder. Bond has been set at $10 million.

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Barry Lee WhelpleyRamsey County, MN Sheriff's Office

The bike Julie Ann had borrowed that July 8 in 1972 to go to a local baseball game was found first, then Julie Ann’s body was found in a cornfield at 87th street and Modaff Road. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed 36 times. At the time, Whelpley was 27 years old and living only about a mile from Hanson.

If Whelpley is convicted, this will be yet another win for familial DNA and genetic genealogy – the same technique that caught California’s Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo in 2018. That is to say, one of Whelpley’s relatives took a commercial DNA test to dive into their family history.

This helped the forensic scientist on the case, Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, link Whelpley to a small sample of DNA left by the killer that had not degraded in the nearly-50-year history of this case.

Naperville Police thought they had a solid suspect last year in Bruce Lindahl who apparently died while stabbing another person in Naperville in 1981. Lindahl was a serial killer with multiple victims and his 1976 murder of Downer’s Grove high school student Pamela Maurer bore striking signature and modus operandi similarities to the murder of Julie Ann Hanson. Yet, Lindahl’s DNA, obviously, was no match.

Naperville Police are asking anyone with knowledge of Julie Ann’s disappearance to please come forward as they proceed to build their case against Whelpley. They ask you call the Police Department at (630) 420-6665 and ask for the Investigations Division.

Watch this space for more as the trial against Whelpley develops.

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Former editor, now dogged-maverick journalist and researcher covering the crime beat. I examine the weird, absurd, and downright infamous in American crime both here and at Real Monsters podcast. Contact: wess@realmonsters.live

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