Julie Ann Hanson disappeared after borrowing her brother's bike in July, 1972

By Harriet Sokmensuer
June 04, 2021 04:01 PM
Julie Ann Hanson
Julie Ann Hanson
| Credit: Naperville Police Department

Authorities have arrested a 76-year-old man on murder charges nearly 50 years after a 15-year-old Illinois girl was found dead in a field.

On Wednesday, the Naperville Police Department arrested 76-year-old Barry Lee Whelpley, accusing him of the 1972 murder of Julie Ann Hanson, the department announced in a press release Wednesday.

Julie disappeared in July 1972 after she borrowed her brother's bike to go to a baseball game, and never came home. She was reported missing and her body was discovered in a field in Naperville.

She had been stabbed multiple times.

No suspect was immediately identified but investigators continued their efforts in solving Julie's murder despite decades passing.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Whelpley was eventually identified through technological advancements in DNA and genetic genealogy analysis. It is unclear what DNA evidence was collected at the scene of the crime.

He was taken into custody in Minnesota and awaits extradition to Illinois. He faces three counts of first-degree murder.

Barry Lee Whelpley
Barry Lee Whelpley
| Credit: Naperville Police Department

"This horrific crime has haunted this family, this community and this department for 49 years," Naperville Police Chief Robert Marshall said in a statement Friday. "The investigation and resulting charges were truly a team effort that spanned decades, and I could not be more proud of the determination and resourcefulness of our investigators, both past and present, who never gave up on Julie."

According to police, Whelpley was 27 at the time of Julie's murder and lived less than a mile from her family's home in Naperville.

Whelpley's bond was set at $10,000,000. Attorney information was not available Friday, and it was not immediately clear if he has entered a plea.

Anyone with additional information regarding Julie's death is urged to contact the Naperville Police Department at (630) 420-6665 and ask for the Investigations Division.