Lifetime to air documentary of Ridulph murder

On Sept. 14, 2012, Jack McCullough was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in 1957.

On Sept. 14, 2012, Jack McCullough was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in 1957.

By Margaret Maka

Charles Ridulph isn’t sure how he’ll feel when a Lifetime documentary chronicling the 1957 kidnapping and murder of his younger sister, Sycamore girl Maria Ridulph, premieres today.

The two-hour documentary premieres 7 p.m. on the Lifetime Movie Network. Ridulph said the documentary, “Footsteps in the Snow,” is based on the book of the same name, which he has read. The works examine the murder of Maria Ridulph, who was 7 years old at her death, and the search for her killer.

The Ridulph case is believed to be the longest solved cold case in the United States, as former Sycamore man Jack McCullough was not convicted of Maria Ridulph’s kidnapping and murder until 2012. McCullough was arrested in 2011.


Charles Ridulph said he hasn’t seen the “Footsteps in the Snow” documentary, but he thinks it will have the biggest impact of all the media coverage surrounding his sister’s case.

After seeing clips of the documentary, Ridulph said he was surprised to see the creators had employed actors, including child actors, and he isn’t sure how he feels about that.

“I was told by the office they have come across the original footage of my mother and father on TV shortly after the kidnapping making a plea for the return of my sister,” Ridulph said. “That … that I think will be emotional to see.”

Ridulph said he and his family were extensively interviewed for the Lifetime documentary, with the crew speaking with them for about 12 hours, and the family went with the documentary team to visit the cemetery where Maria Ridulph is buried.

Other media coverage

Ridulph said that although the process of participating in coverage surrounding the case has been healing, the family hasn’t been equally pleased with all its experiences.

The family was “not pleased” with a “48 Hours” show, he said, but a recent appearance on “Dr. Phil” to discuss “Footsteps in the Snow” provided a good experience.

Moving forward

Ridulph said McCullough, the man convicted of Maria Ridulph’s kidnapping and murder, and his girlfriend were interviewed for the documentary, but the family doesn’t know the nature of these interviews.

McCullough is serving a life sentence, which he has appealed. Ridulph said he’s read all of the briefs on the appeal from the defense and the prosecution. Ridulph said he and his family will attend the arguments.

“The arguments will be presented on Dec. 3, which is actually the anniversary of when Maria was kidnapped, which is kinda spooky,” Ridulph said.

The Ridulph family hopes to organize a scholarship in memoriam of Maria Ridulph, although the details haven’t been completely worked out, Ridulph said. Ridulph said the scholarship will have a connection with Sycamore’s West Elementary School, which Maria Ridulph attended.

“We’re thinking it’ll be perhaps two parts,” Ridulph said. “One would be a scholarship for students who went to West Elementary School who are going onto college perhaps and might need a scholarship. And possibly also a compassion fund, which would be used in West School at their discretion.”

Ridulph said there will be a book signing Dec. 6 in the Rockford Barnes and Noble, 7200 Harrison Ave., for “Footsteps in the Snow.” The family hopes to have all the details of the scholarship fund worked out by then, he said.