A Minnesota man charged with the 1972 murder of a Naperville teen made his first court appearance in Will County after he was extradited from his home state.
Barry Whelpley, 76, appeared on video from the Will County jail on Wednesday. Whelpley wore a green jail uniform, blue surgical mask and glasses.
Whelpley was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Julie Ann Hanson in Naperville. He last lived in Naperville in 1983 and he once lived “within a mile of the Hanson residence,” according to Naperville police.
Whelpley was taken in custody in Minnesota and extradited on Tuesday to the Will County jail.
Whelpley’s attorney was not present for his first appearance in Will County, where Judge Dave Carlson read the charges against him. Carlson had signed the $10 million warrant for his arrest.
“I haven’t talked to him yet,” Whelpley said of his attorney, whom he did not name.
Carlson scheduled another court hearing for Friday for status on Whelpley’s attorney. He also scheduled June 24 for either an arraignment or preliminary hearing. The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office will likely file an indictment against Whelpley before then.
Hanson’s sister, her sister’s husband and their daughter were in court, according to Will County State’s Attorney spokeswoman Carole Cheney. They declined to comment.
Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall read a statement from the Hanson family at a June 4 news conference.
“As you might assume, this has been a long journey for our family. We are forever grateful to all those who have worked on this case throughout the many years,” the family’s statement said.
Will County Assistant State’s Attorneys Chris Koch and Michael Fitzgerald are prosecuting the case against Whelpley.
At a June 4 news conference, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said the case was still under investigation and he was not promising additional charges against Whelpley.
“We’re prepared to go forward on charges that have been filed,” Glasgow said.
He said Whelpley retired as a welder in Minnesota.
Whelpley’s arrest stems from an investigation spanning nearly 50 years.
Marshall said at the June 4 news conference that “tremendous advancements” in DNA testing and genealogy, as well as the efforts of investigators, led to Whelpley’s arrest.
Hanson was reported missing on July 8, 1972, police said. Marshall said Hanson had borrowed her brother’s bicycle to go to a baseball game and never came back.
After she was reported missing, her body was discovered in Naperville near 87th Street and Modaff Road. She had been stabbed multiple times, police said.
“The last 49 years, we’ve chased many leads, identified many suspects and all were eliminated through the exhaustive investigation by our detectives,” Marshall said.
Police said the breakthrough in the case “came through technological advancements in DNA and genetic genealogy analysis.”
California-based Indentifinders International contributed to the investigation of the DNA evidence, police said.
In a news release, Colleen Fitzpatrick, the company’s president, called the case “groundbreaking.”
“It was one of the highest risk cases we’ve addressed to date because of the very poor condition of the DNA. Solving such a difficult case fuels our passion for supporting law enforcement by solving cases that were thought to be over the horizon of modern technology,” Fitzpatrick said.
Company officials said the Hanson case was “considered high risk because after 50 years, the crime scene DNA was severely degraded and believed to be unusable,” according to a news release.
“The sample was also very low quantity, consisting of only 360 picograms of DNA, that is, only 0.3 trillionths of a gram. In November 2020, the Naperville Police Department contacted Identifinders International to try to solve the case using forensic genetic genealogy as a last resort,” company officials said.
Identifinders International faced numerous challenges in creating a viable genetic genealogy data without a guarantee of success, officials said.
“Yet once that data was uploaded to the genetic genealogy database GEDMatch, the case was solved in only two hours,” officials said.
Source: The Daily Chronicle