Tacoma detectives are looking into the background of a 71-year-old Seattle man arrested recently in the abduction and slaying of a young Illinois girl more than 50 years ago to see whether he could be tied to any similar types of unsolved cases in the city.
So far, nothing immediately stands out that would tie Jack Daniel McCullough to any of the city’s unsolved homicides, which include the 1986 deaths of two girls, Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said.
Investigators will wait to see if DNA testing sheds new light on his possible involvement.
Among the city’s unsolved slayings are the 1986 deaths of Jennifer Bastian and Michella Welch. Welch, 12, was found slain in the North End’s Puget Park on March 26, 1986; Bastian, 13, was found slain in Point Defiance Park in Aug. 28 after she’d been missing for nearly a month. Both had been riding their bikes at the time they disappeared.
McCullough, a former officer for the Milton and Lacey police departments, was being held in Seattle on $3 million bail in the 1957 abduction and slaying of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph. Maria disappeared while playing outside with a friend. A young man known as “Johnny” had offered to give Maria and the friend a piggyback ride. The friend ran home and never saw Maria again.
Maria’s remains were found four months later by two people foraging for mushrooms.
McCullough lived less than two blocks from Maria’s home. He generally fit the described of the man who approached Maria and her friend and was suspected in the young girl’s abduction.
At the time, McCullough, who was known as John Tessier, claimed he was on a train the day of the abduction. Last year, investigators reinterviewed McCullough’s girlfriend at the time and asked her to search through personal items. She found an unused train ticket from the day Maria went missing.
McCullough joined the Air Force a short time later. He moved to Washington state as an adult.
The Seattle Times reported Saturday that he has a history of sexually abusing young girls. The Milton Police Department fired him after he was accused of sexually assaulting a teenage runaway and pleaded guilty to unlawful communication with a minor.
A former wife told authorities that McCullough took nude photos of women for a photography business that didn’t seem to make any money, and that she found nude photos of a young female relative taped to the bottom of a drawer, the Seattle Times reported.
McCullough also worked at the Lacey Police Department, according to court documents obtained by the Seattle Times. Most recently he has been working as a night watchman at a retirement home in North Seattle where he lives with his wife.
McCullough faces extradition to Illinois to faces charges in the 1957 slaying.
Besides Welch and Bastian, there are several other unsolved slayings and disappearances involving girls in Pierce County.
* Adre’anna Jackson, 10. Her remains were found in April 2006 in a vacant lot in Lakewood, four months after she’d disappeared while on her way to Tillicum Elementary School.
* Anna Lee Chebetnoy, 14. Her body was found in September 1991 near Enumclaw, more than a year after she was last seen at a Puyallup shopping center.
* Kimberly Delange, 15. Her body was found in August 1988 near Enumclaw, a month after she disappeared. She also had been last seen at the same shopping center in Puyallup as Chebetnoy, and her body was found in the same location where Chebetnoy’s would be found in 1991.
* Shannon L. Pease, 15. Her body was found in April 1988 in a field in Lakewood. She’s believed to have disappeared from Ponders Corner in the Tacoma area.
* Teekah Lewis, 2 1/2. She disappeared Jan. 23, 1999, from a Tacoma bowling alley, where she was last seen playing near the video games. She’s not been found.
* Misty D. Copsey, 14. She was last seen Sept. 17, 1992, at a bus stop in Puyallup after a day at the Puyallup Fair. Her jeans, a pair of panties and a sock were later found near Highway 410 in February 1993 but she’s never been found.