"Half a century after the mysterious abduction and killing of a 7-year-old Illinois girl, authorities found a suspect — a former neighbor of the child — secured his conviction and put an end to a small town’s agony. Jack McCullough, by that time a 73-year-old retired policeman, was sentenced to life in prison in 2012. But according to the findings of a new public prosecutor, the case should stand as a warning on the perils of re-opening a decades-old investigation. A six-month review by DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack found a parade of alleged missteps by investigators, former prosecutors, judges and witnesses trying to pull details out of the fog of years. And he uncovered evidence supporting McCullough’s long-held alibi: that he was attempting to enlist with the U.S. Air Force at a military recruiting station in another city on the night Maria Ridulph disappeared in 1957. McCullough is the wrong man, Schmack contends. McCullough’s attorneys will be back in court Friday in Sycamore, Ill., to again ask a judge to vacate the conviction or order a new trial that could set him free. Members of Ridulph’s family remain convinced McCullough is guilty and are seeking appointment of a special prosecutor in an attempt to keep him behind bars......... The arrest warrant: McCullough had moved to Washington state, where he worked as a policeman and later a security guard, so in 2011, Illinois investigators had to persuade a police detective there to prepare an affidavit and secure an arrest warrant from a Seattle judge. Schamck’s review found the affidavit contained numerous incorrect or misleading statements. Among them was one asserting the two girls “were last seen playing at about 6 p.m.” Again, the decades-old FBI reports show the girl who went out to play with Maria, Kathy Sigman Chapman, had not even left her home by 6 p.m. An old photo: In lieu of a line-up, Hanley of the State Police showed Chapman photos that included a headshot of McCullough. But Schmack called the presentation “suggestive in the extreme.” The images of five other people were all professional yearbook photos showing men in suit coats with light backgrounds. McCullough’s image was a snapshot with a dark background, and he was not wearing a suit coat. A deathbed revelation? McCullough’s mother, Eileen Tessier, was dying of cancer in 1994 when she uttered a statement that two of McCullough’s half-sisters took to be a deathbed admission that she had known for decades that McCullough killed Maria. But was it? A doctor testified that she was on morphine and even jotted down notes describing the patient as “pleasantly confused” and disoriented. Judge Hallock allowed prosecutors to present the statement at trial."