NAPERVILLE, Ill. — It’s been nearly 50 years since a teenage girl was viciously stabbed to death in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, but genetic genealogy has led to an arrest. At the time of the heinous crime, the suspect lived a mile from the victim.
Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, was taken into custody Wednesday at his Minnesota residence for the 1972 murder of Julie Ann Hanson, 15, who died of multiple stab wounds, according to the Naperville Police Department.
Hanson had been reported missing after she borrowed her brother’s bicycle to attend his baseball game. Her body was found in a nearby corn field shortly after her sister reported her missing the following day. Her parents were not at home when she disappeared, ABC News reported.
Hanson had been raped and stabbed 36 times. Sadly, no suspect was developed in the case until the recent break due to advanced technology.
Whelpley was living a mile from the Hanson residence at the time of the abduction. Following his arrest, he is being held on $10 million bail in Minnesota pending extradition to Illinois.
Using genetic genealogy, police were able to identify the suspect through preserved DNA that was left at the crime scene. The technology has been credited with helping police solve more than 150 cold cases since 2018, New York Post reported. The technique allows police to search family members who have voluntarily submitted their DNA to genealogy databases.
Police in the Hanson case would not provide specifics on which databases they used to develop Whelpley as the suspect. The man accused of the horrible crime is the father of two daughters and has been divorced three times, according to court records cited by the Daily Herald.
Police did not say whether Whelpley knew the Hanson family prior to the homicide.
“This brutal crime haunted our community,” Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said at a press conference Friday. “This was never a cold case … we continually investigated.”
The Hanson family released a statement saying, “We are forever grateful to all those who have worked on this case throughout the years.”