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Monday, March 4, 2024

Naperville Police Arrest Suspect in 1972 Murder

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Above-Below / During a press conference in Council Chambers, the Naperville Police Department and Will County State’s Attorney’s Office announced a breakthrough in the investigation of the 1972 homicide of 15-year-old Naperville resident Julie Ann Hanson.  Five decades of investigation have resulted in the arrest of a suspect, Barry Lee Whelpley, a former Naperville resident. (PN Photos)

Update, Feb. 11, 2024 / According to Will County authorities, Barry Lee Whelpley, age 79, was found unresponsive in his jail cell early Fri., Feb. 9, 2024. Whelpley was later declared dead at a Joliet hospital, officials said.

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Update, Whelpley Charged, June 24, 2021 / Barry Lee Whelpley is indicted and pleads “not guilty” in an arraignment hearing in Will County.  chicago.suntimes.com/crime/2021/6/24/

Whelpley Arrest Update, June 9, 2021 / “Due to the extensive interest by the media and residents, we wanted to update our community on the status of this case. Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, who is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the 1972 homicide of Julie Ann Hanson, was extradited to Illinois yesterday, June 8, and is currently in custody at the Will County Jail.

“Thanks to everyone who has reached out in support of our department’s efforts on this case. Going forward, any information or updates about this criminal case will need to come from the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office,” emailed Michaus Williams, Commander Office of Professional Standards/Public Information Officer, Naperville Police Department.

Original Post, June 4, 2021 / On Wed., June 2, 2021, the Naperville Police Department arrested Barry Lee Whelpley, 76, of Mounds View, Minnesota, for the 1972 murder of 15-year-old Naperville resident Julie Ann Hanson. 

Julie Ann Hanson

Julie Ann Hanson was reported missing on July 8, 1972.

According to Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall, the young teen had borrowed her brother’s bike to go to baseball game on July 7.

After she was reported missing on July 8, and after an exhaustive search, her body was discovered later that same day in a cornfield in Naperville near 87th Street and Modaff Road. She had been stabbed multiple times.

No suspect was immediately identified, and Naperville Police Detectives have continued to investigate the murder over the last 49 years.

Chief Marshall noted that for five decades local law enforcement had chased many suspects during exhaustive investigations. “This has never been a ‘cold case’,” he added, saying the breakthrough in this case came via technological advancements in DNA and genetic genealogy analysis.

Whelpley, who was 27 at the time of Julie Ann Hanson’s murder, is a former resident of Naperville and lived within a mile of the Hanson residence. He was taken into custody in Mounds View, Minnesota, where he most recently lived, now retired as a welder.

Barry Lee Whelpley

Whelpley is awaiting extradition to Illinois. He has been charged by the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office with three (3) counts of First-Degree Murder. His bond was set at $10 million. 

“This horrific crime has haunted this family, this community and this department for 49 years,” stated Chief Marshall. “The investigation and resulting charges were truly a team effort that spanned decades, and I could not be more proud of the determination and resourcefulness of our investigators, both past and present, who never gave up on Julie.”

Chief Marshall thanked everyone who’d had a hand in the investigation, referencing all the advances and accessible DNA and genealogical resources now available across the nation.

Gratitude on behalf of the Hanson family was deeply expressed. 

Any individual with additional information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact the Naperville Police Department at (630) 420-6665 and ask for the Investigations Division.

The Naperville Police wish to remind the public and the news media that a charge is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

NPD Public Information for the City of Naperville contributed information and photos to this report.

Crime Stoppers remind us that “keeping our community safe is everyone’s responsibility.” Note also that “Partnering for Prevention,” an open house hosted by the police and fire departments, is slated for 10AM to 2PM on Sat., Sept. 25, at the Naperville Public Safety Center. (PN Photo)

Editor’s Note / Sitting in City Council Chambers was a poignant reminder that law enforcement investigations aim to close cases and sometimes it takes decades. Today’s news was a chance to reflect, become more informed and to raise awareness that crime doesn’t pay. With many advances in technology that now assist in successful investigations, training in those research-based investigative procedures with access to tools and resources seem more necessary than ever to solve crimes.

This morning, Chief Marshall credited the arrest, in part, to connecting with research facilities across the nation, services that enhance forensic aspects of investigations such as DNA and genealogy. Chief also said the Naperville Police Department never allowed the investigation of the Hanson murder to become a cold case.

Reluctant to provide all the details in the case, Will County States Attorney James Glasgow encouraged media present to do research online regarding technological advancements that assist investigations, improving how police work is accomplished.

Chief Marshall also cited a long list of former NPD officers that had investigated the case throughout the years, including Captain Jon Ripsky, now retired, who had served as the lead investigator back in 1972.

Professional personnel as well as the creation and maintenance of investigative resources (manuals, databases and training courses) certainly come with a cost.

Our City must be diligent regarding cost-effective funding support in several areas relevant to investigations, including crime mapping, forensic tool testing and evidence reliability.

We appreciate that our City funds our police and its many public safety programs. We appreciate this city’s dedicated, informed and well-trained police.

We also appreciate that whenever an arrest is made, the Naperville Police remind us “that a charge is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.” 

—PN

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.

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