Minnesota inmate, 79, dies in jail while awaiting trial for 1972 murder of teen girl

20 days ago

Joliet news, Minnesota news.

A Minnesota man awaiting trial for a cold case murder has died Friday in a Joliet jail, authorities said.

Barry Lee Whelpley, 79, was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after he was found unresponsive in his cell at the Will County Jail.

“I was very surprised to get the phone call this morning,” Whelpley’s attorney Terry Ekl said.

The attorney added that Whelpley, who appeared fine during a Tuesday court appearance, only complained about the quality of food and the shortness of exercise time he was allowed at the lockup.

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  • Ekl also said his client never confessed to raping or killing 15-year-old Julie Ann Hanson who disappeared while riding her bicycle to her brother’s baseball game on July 7, 1972.

    The Naperville girl was found dead the following day, stabbed 36 times. Whelpley, who was 27 at the time, has been living within a mile of her home.

    He was arrested in 2021 after a forensic genetic genealogy company assisted by the Naperville Police Department linked DNA recovered from the victim to Whelpley.

    “This horrific crime has haunted this family, this community, and this department for 49 years,” Police Chief Robert Marshall said at the time of Whelpley’s arrest.

    “I could not be more proud of the determination and resourcefulness of our investigators, both past and present, who never gave up on Julie.”