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That's Criminal

Former Cop's Life Sentence for Killing a 7-Year-Old Girl Is Meaningless

by Jennifer Lawinski on December 10, 2012 at 5:20 PM

jail cellLife in prison is supposed to be a punishment for a heinous crime, a punishment that deprives criminals of their liberty and the chance to have the lives their victims never could. But when that sentence is handed down to a 73-year-old who's had a long, full life -- the kind of life he stole from his 7-year-old victim, Maria Ridulph -- it's a cruel joke

On Monday, former Washington state police trooper Jack McCollough was sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping and murder of Ridulph more than 50 years ago. He was convicted in September, ending the saga of one of America's oldest cold cases to actually make it to trial. While a life sentence -- the maximum for which he was eligible -- is just and fair, it's a case of too little, too late.

McCullough's half-sister Janet Tessier testified during the trial that his mother made "incriminating comments" on her deathbed in 1994, and acknowledged that she'd lied to police when she supported his alibi. Prosecutors said McCullough had introduced himself to Ridulph and her friend, Kathy Chapman, now 63, as "Johnny," and once he had Ridulph alone, he dragged her into an alley, strangled her, and then dumped her body 100 miles from the scene of the crime.

Now, 55 years later, he's being given a life sentence. Frankly, this is bulls*it. I'm sure some of the poor girl's friends and family feel some relief at having a resolution to this horrific scenario. But McCullough getting life now is like taking a man on his deathbed and punishing him. What does it even matter? He's had his life. He had a career. He had family and friends around him for more than five decades. Five decades stolen from an innocent young girl.

Maria never got to grow up. Fall in love. Start a family. Have a career. See a man walk on the moon. See all the ways in which the world has changed since 1957. She would have been the same age as my father.

It's good to see justice done, but there's no punishment that can make up for the life he stole that he got to live instead.

Do you think that even though he's been sentenced to life in prison, Jack McCollough really got away with murder?

 

Image via Tim Pierce, Los Gatos/Flickr

Filed Under: crime, in the news, law

Comments

15
  • tuffy...
    --

    tuffymama

    December 10, 2012 at 7:31 PM
    She would be just a couple of years older than my mom. Did he take someone's soul mate? What children were never born because of him? Did she want to be a mommy, or a nurse, or a cowgirl? My mom wanted to be those things when she was little. It's all there in her scrapbook. How crippled with pain my poor grandfather would have been if my mother's scrapbook had stopped at age seven!

    I agree there is no punishment severe enough for this POS. Too bad it isn't the old old days, when his seed could be erased, too. I'm only half kidding. Take one of my kids, and I would likely feel compelled to take all of yours. This world would never be fit for me to live if this happened to my kid. This poor family.
  • Venae
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    Venae

    December 10, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    I'm surprised they sent him away - he was 17 at the time of the murder - I thought they couldn't send "children" to life in prison.

    What a great family, lying for this murderer - bad enough about mom, but damn, the sister has known since 1994!  I hope they all rot in hell.


  • Flori...
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    Floridamom96

    December 10, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    So, should we just do nothing? I understand your frustration and disappointment that it took so long for this man to face man's justice, but as a people we must do something when we face evil. Things like this are why I'm so glad I have faith in God and believe that this man will face a justice far more sure than we can offer here.


  • Jenny...
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    JennyG0929

    December 10, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    Hopefully he lives a really long time.


  • fleur...
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    fleurdelys3110

    December 10, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    If hell does exist, there is a special place for people who do these sorts of things to children.


  • Bubba...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Bubba Settle

    December 11, 2012 at 5:36 PM
    Thats what america gets for being weak...bring capital punishment for thousands of victims that deserve justice!!!
  • Kim
    -- Nonmember comment from

    Kim

    December 11, 2012 at 5:54 PM
    He will be killed in prison for sure. Two reasons..1.ex cop 2. Fucked with a kid. The end
  • Heath...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Heather Marie Sisemore-Green

    December 11, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    It is heartbreaking. This precious little girl who was just beginning her life and her family who missed watching her grow up into a woman who would later have her own children. All because of a sicko who went on to live out his life with seemingly no remorse. All because his mother protected the monster he became. I do agree that his punishment came too late to appease anyone... However, there should be some appeasement that during the time that he should be surrounded by family, enjoying retirement, later to die in peace, he will be surrounded by prisoners in a cold institution.


  • Brend...
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    BrendaLeeMomOf3

    December 11, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Wow thats like saying it is better to kill an elderly person because they lived their life. Yet not fair to the girl it really isn't the systems fault if he had someone swear in court he was with her.


  • lucky...
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    luckylady130

    December 11, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    no cause he want live that long its just said that it took all this time to catch up to him

     


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