Minnesota man awaiting trial in teen’s 1972 slaying is found dead in Illinois cell

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Authorities in Illinois say a Minnesota man charged in the stabbing death of a 15-year-old suburban Chicago girl more than 50 years ago has died.

Seventy-nine-year-old Barry Lee Whelpley was found unresponsive Friday in his cell at the Will County Jail in Joliet. Deputy Chief Dan Jungles of the Will County Sheriff’s Office says Whelpley was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Arlington Heights Daily Herald reports that authorities do not suspect foul play. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday.

Whelpley was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated criminal sexual assault in the 1972 death of Julie Ann Hanson of Naperville. He was arrested in 2021 after DNA evidence linked him to the case.