Synopses & Reviews
NOW A LIFETIME MOVIE CHANNEL DOCUMENTARY
It was a shocking true crime that left two families shattered, and became the coldest case in U.S. history.
Who really killed little Maria? The question fueled a real-life nightmare in Sycamore, Illinois...
1957. Sycamore, Illinois. Christmas was three weeks away, and seven-year-old Maria Ridulph went out to play. Soon after, a figure emerged out of the falling snow. He was very friendly. Minutes later, Maria vanished, leaving behind an abandoned doll and footsteps in the snow.
In April, a spring thaw gave up Mariaand#8217;s body in a nearby wooded area. The case attracted national attention, including that of the FBI and President Eisenhower. In all, seventy-four men and three women fell under suspicion. But no one was ever charged with the crime.
Incredibly, fifty-five years later, the coldest case in the history of American jurisprudence would be reopened. It happened after a seventy-four-year-old former neighbor of the Ridulphs named Eileen Tessier made a stunning deathbed confession to her family about a dark past, and a darker secret they knew nothing about. Two families would be joined by despair and retribution, and in an astounding turn of events, Maria Ridulphand#8217;s killer would finally be brought to justice.
and#160; INCLUDES PHOTOGRAPHS
"Lachman (The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family) does an outstanding job of making the resolution of a horrific cold-case murder into a gripping page-turner. The murder case dates back to December 1957, in the small Illinois town of Sycamore. Two young girls, Maria Ridulph and Kathy Sigman, were playing just outside their homes when a stranger approached them, introducing himself as Johnny and offering to give the girls piggyback rides. Kathy ran inside to retrieve her mittens; when she returned, Maria and Johnny were gone. The search for the missing Maria engulfed the community, but ended tragically with the discovery of the seven-year-old's corpse months later. It took decades for the killer to be identified, under circumstances that sound like fiction, with a dramatic deathbed revelation that set the stage for a prosecution more than 50 years after the crime. Despite the book's length, Lachman paces it perfectly, carrying the reader along on a narrative full of twists, while delving into the tragedy's impact on Sycamore and its residents. Photos. Agent: Paul Fedorko, N.S. Bienstock Inc. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Charles Lachman is executive producer of the television news magazine show, Inside Edition. Previously, he was managing editor of the nightly news broadcasts at WNYW-TV in New York City and was a reporter for the New York Post. Lachman is the author of In the Name of the Law, The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family, and most recently, A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland. He lives in New York City.