Jack Daniel McCullough, now 71, was a neighbor of the seven-year-old at the time of her disappearance from Sycamore, IL.
According to her friend Cathy Sigman who was eight at the time, a young man walked up and introduce himself as "Johnny".
Ridulph accepted piggyback rides from the mysterious stranger and her friend left her, playing with him.
It was the last time the girl dubbed "Pretty Maria" by newspapers at the time, would be seen alive.
For the next five months, almost the entire 7000-strong community, searched alongside FBI agents for the girl but in in April 1958 their worst fears were realised when Maria’s decomposed remains turned up beneath an oak tree almost 100 miles away, near Galena.
McCullough who was questioned at time had claimed that he’d been on a train from Rockford to Chicago on the day Maria was abducted, court documents state.
But last year one of his ex-girlfriends came across an unused and unstamped train ticket for the Rockford-to-Chicago trip, ripping apart his alibi and prompting authorities to reopen the case.
He has yet to be formally arraigned on the charges but the Seattle resident and one-time police officer will formally deny any involvement in the Sycamore youngster’s death, DeKalb County Public Defender Regina Harris said after the hearing Wednesday.
She told the Chicago Sun Times: “Absolutely, he will plead not guilty."
McCullough remains in the DeKalb County Jail on $3 million bail after being extradited to Illinois to face charges in the girl’s notorious disappearance and death.