"Jeanne said it was the way he looked at her, the way he made her feel. 'He would touch my hair and tell me I was pretty.'"
Later, the story Jeanne told police would be much darker, and far more specific. It would lead to a rape trial.
'Look at my eyes'
The police came for Jack Daniel McCullough on June 29, 2011. He had just finished his graveyard shift as night watchman at the Four Freedoms House.
Oddly, his apartment number was the same as Maria's street address on Archie Place in Sycamore: 616.
Ciesynski watched McCullough for several days before making his approach. Then, he used a ruse, saying he needed the night watchman's help with an assault in a downtown luxury apartment building where McCullough had worked the previous year. But soon, McCullough was taken on the proverbial ride downtown, to Seattle police headquarters. He was placed in an interrogation room and told they had some questions about the Maria Ridulph case.
Sure, he said, he'd be glad to help.
Hanley read McCullough his rights. "It's all good advice," the suspect said, waving him off. "I'm on your side here. I'm trying to help you."
CNN obtained a copy of the eight-hour interrogation. At first, McCullough seemed gracious, even obsequious. He made small talk and cracked jokes with the officers. But he bristled when Hanley asked about his marriages and divorces: "You're investigating a child, right? You're not investigating me."
During a break, when Ciesynski left the room, McCullough signaled for Hanley to stay with him. He said the others didn't seem interested in what he had to say. He leaned over a tabletop and gestured for Hanley to come closer. "I had a dream," he said, suddenly slapping the table with his palm. "And it reminded me of a conversation I had as a kid." He said a friend warned him to stay away from another boy who was preoccupied with sex. He couldn't recall the name of the boy, but said he stayed with a family in the neighborhood.
He raised his voice, slowed his words and dramatically tapped his fingers on the table top with each word.
"And on the same block as Maria lived."
McCullough squirmed and became evasive when asked about his family and sex. He denied sexually assaulting his sister Jeanne.
"I NEVER HAD SEX!" he roared, pounding the table in the interrogation room.
"Ok, what did you have?" Hanley asked.
"Just playing around."
"O.K., O.K., playing around with your sister. You know that we just want you to be honest," Hanley continued. McCullough countered that even if he did "play around" with his sister, "that doesn't make me a murderer."
Without any prompting, he leaned forward and stated:
"Let me tell you something, I did not kidnap that little girl."
He brought his face close to Hanley's. "Look at my eyes. I did not have anything to do with that little girl. She was loved in the neighborhood. She was a little Mexican girl with big brown eyes and she was sweet as could be, hardly said a word to anybody and everyone loved her."
'Lovely, lovely, lovely'
Nearly three hours into the questioning, McCullough agreed to take a polygraph test but balked when the questions became personal. He alternated between rage and calm before shutting the test down.
Irene Lau, the homicide detective who prepared the test, thought he showed a strange attachment to Maria.
"He described her as being very stunningly beautiful with big brown eyes and he stated that she was 'lovely, lovely, lovely,'" Lau recalled. "He appeared to be discussing her as if he was talking about someone he had been deeply, deeply in love with."
After the aborted polygraph, Ciesynski took over the questioning. The veteran cold case investigator relishes the "bad cop" role in interrogations. He got in McCullough's face, relentlessly challenging him about his whereabouts on December 3, 1957 -- the night Maria was kidnapped. He confronted him with the deathbed statement his mother made to his sister.