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Footsteps in the Snow

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  833 ratings  ·  79 reviews

It was a shocking true crime that left two families shattered, and became the coldest case in U.S. history.
Who really killed little Maria? The question fueled a real-life nightmare in Sycamore, Illinois...

1957. Sycamore, Illinois. Christmas was three weeks away, and seven-year-old Maria Ridulph went out to play. Soon after, a figure
Paperback, 502 pages
Published November 4th 2014 by Berkley
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  833 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Valerity (Val)
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Footsteps in the Snow (Mass Market Paperback)

This was one of the best books I have read in a while, just being such an amazing story in itself. The oldest cold case in the US, taking 55 years from start to finish was just mind blowing, let alone all the twists and turns along the way in following the crime and the solving of it, the kidnapping and murder of a young girl in a small town in Illinois. Very suspenseful as the facts are dealt out through the years, follows the anguish of all those i
♥ Marlene♥
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very glad I read this because I discovered another very good author. I am always one who likes it when a killer is convicted but with this cas I thought the evidence was lacking and I do not have that much but I decided that if all those cops and prosecutors thought he did it he probably did.

Anyway very well written true crime book.

(view spoiler)
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the non-fiction and complex history of the longest running, and yet eventually solved/ convicted, murder case within USA history of the last 100 years. This murder occurred in Sycamore, IL on Dec. 3, 1957, with murder charging papers released on 6/29/2011. It was nearly 55 years before the murderer was convicted. After FBI, Chicago and other Dupage County district police units had set it aside, a couple of diligent Illinois State Police officers dug out the necessary testimonies and evid ...more
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating true life tale about Maria Ridulph, a 7 year old girl from Sycamore, Illinois who went missing and was later found murdered in 1957 and the trial of John Tessier (aka John McCullough) who was the last to have seen her. The trial took place 55 years after her death. Lachman does a wonderful job relating the case and the trial.
Breann Bianco
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was remarkably sad. It's amazing how after 5 decades, they finally caught the man who murdered little Maria Ridulph. This is the oldest cold case in U.S. history and justice was finally served to pedophile who fancied little girls and piggy back rides. John Tessier, aka Jack McCollough, deserves to die in prison. Excellent but yet terribly sad book. ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a very well written book about the oldest cold case to ever be tried in the U.S. A beautiful little 7 year old was kidnapped and murdered. It's a long book (over 500 pages), but a good one true crime readers will likely appreciate. ...more
Katherine Addison
True crime about the murder of Maria Ridulph in 1957 and the seeming solution to the cold case in 2012. I say "seeming" because Jack McCullough's conviction was overturned and the case is as unsolved today as it was the day Maria was abducted.

Lachman does not offer any meta-analysis, but it's pretty clear he thinks McCullough did it. On the evidence he presents, mostly things coming out of McCullough's own mouth, it's hard NOT to think McCullough did it. The other evidence--the deathbed confessi
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I swore off reading anymore dark, morose, heart wrenching crime mysteries, true or otherwise, because I was just tired of them all and the human depravity they represent. Then.... Footsteps in the Snow showed up in my Amazon Kindle recommendations. What first caught my eye was the location of Sycamore, IL, a small town in DeKalb County not far from where we lived for over 20 yrs. I was stunned, and intrigued, that this book was about a crime that occurred in 1957 and was not solved until 50+ yea ...more
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ann Rule is the standard to which I judge every true-crime book I read, and this definitely hits the mark.

One reviewer stated the book was too long, that minute details and descriptions of people and incidents bogged down the story. I read that review before beginning the book (bad habit!), kept waiting for this monotony to occur and yet never once felt it. In fact, I was riveted, and read this almost 500 page book in a few days. I also expected difficulty feeling a connection to such an old cri
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
[Consider this a blanket trigger warning for this book. While the author writes with restraint, there are elements that are likely to be disturbing, especially with regard to sexual violence.]

While it's becoming more common for cold cases to find solutions years later, when the murderer of little Maria Ridulph was brought to trial, it was the oldest, coldest case ever to hit a courtroom. Lachman tells the story well, and paints a picture of the dark secrets even a small town can hold.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! I randomly picked it out at the library. This book is all about the oldest cold case in US history! Takes place in Sycamore/DeKalb area. Not only is this book full of history dating back to the 1957 kidnapping..but it is so we'll written. one of the best true crime books I have read! ...more
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Quick Read. Run-of-the-mill True Crime book.

The first part of the book was intriguing.. covering the details of the night of the crime and the overall reaction of the community. However, as the book went on, I became sorely disappointed and a bit aggravated. By the time I read the bio on the author, a lot of the writing made sense.

Firstly, what is with some non-fiction books not having any sources sited? At one point I decided to do a internet search on one of the people in the book, I found an
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In December of 1957 Sycamore, Illinois seven-year-old Maria Ridulph was playing with her friend Kathy Sigman. A friendly man introduced himself to them. He gave piggy back rides and wanted to see their dolls.Kathy went to get her mittens and when she returned she could not find Maria or the friendly man. The whole town searched but was not able to find her. In April Maria's body was found in a nearby wooded area. No one was ever charged with the crime until fifty five years later when the case w ...more
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One shocking crime, two shattered families. The coldest case in US history.
In 1957, in Sycamore IL, a 7 year old girl goes missing. The story takes you through the search for little Maria Ridulph, the investigation, the blunders, and the family secrets. Fifty five years later, after a deathbed confession, there is an arrest. An interesting story that shows how politics and law go hand in hand, back in 1957, as it does today. I'd recommend this book to anyone that enjoys true crime stories, and e
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoy true crime stories and this one did not disappoint, especially being it was a cold case from over 50 years ago. It is so hard for families to suffer a loss like this and always wondering what and who did it. Well told...
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I remember seeing this on 48 hours or something a few years ago. When I saw this book at my library in the new books section, I just had to read it! Glad I did! Very good book, some parts were hard to read though! Couldn't believe that it took almost 60 years to solve this case ...more
Robin Dailey
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
A true story about the tragic murder of a little girl over 50 years ago and the reopening of her murder as a "cold case." I don't want to spoil the story - so I'll just say that the book is worth your time. At least it was for me! ...more
Sarah Tudor
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not a fan of true crime books in general and read this as a "recommended if you liked Serial". The story was well-written for the most part and held my interest. Still not a fan of the genre, especially in cold case situations like this one but I'd recommend the book for anyone who is. ...more
Sarah Ewald
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a heart-breaking book. I remember reading an overview article in the Chicago Tribune last year.
An interesting true crime read. It amazes me that the perpetrator of this crime got away for so long. It blows my mind that he was a policeman. I am so glad that her family finally got justice.
Lois Berry
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was interesting to me because we moved to Sycamore five years after the kidnapping and murder.of Maria. It was still talked about and parents were cautioned to be vigilant. Interesting book.
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great true crime book about solving the oldest cold case yet.
E. Allen
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book, Footsteps in the Snow, is a true crime story centered on the longest cold case in U.S. history. On Dec.3, 1957, seven-year-old Maria Ridulph went outside to play with her friend Kathy in the snow. A man appeared, told him his name, Johnny, and asked if either of them wanted a piggyback ride? Maria agreed to two rides. The first was without incident. The second ride happened while Kathy ran home to grab a pair of mittens. When she returned, Maria and the man were gone. Four months later ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
This is an interesting read, but probably not for the reasons it was originally written for. And n all fairness, the author may want to consider a follow-up. This is a look into what is the oldest cold case in American history. The 1957 abduction and murder of little Maria Ridulph led to a 50 year investigation that resulted in the arrest and conviction of a former neighbor, Jack Daniel McCullough, aka James Tessier.

This book, written and published two years after his conviction is a true crime
Anne S
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
This book is about a murder that happened in 1957 and was not adjudicated until 2011! It was over 55 years. A little girl was playing outside with her friend when a man came up and asked if she would like a piggy back ride. One girl got the ride and when the other went home to get her mittens because it was cold outside, when she returned, Maria was gone!

This book talks about the families involved in the killing, the depravity of the killer who got away with it for too long, and finally the mot
Susan Edge-Gumbel
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
In 1989, I moved from Iowa to an Illinois town about an hour east of Sycamore and have also been to Sycamore's annual Pumpkin Festival. However, because I knew nothing about the murder of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph, nor that it was the oldest cold case in the country, I was fascinated by this page-turning account by the author. I learned about a piece of Illinois history of which I was totally unaware and was gratified to learn that many law enforcement officers and criminal nvestigators are openi ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
True story. Very well written. Interesting how in our legal system one person could get away with murder. Time changed everything. Over the yrs our investigation teams became more knowledgeable, skillful. The courts brought Justice. It saddens me that parents would hide knowledge of their sons crimes till their death. I wish we had the power to make them live longer and see they get the same punishment as their son. Even at the sons age when he went to jail was something but not enough.
If you l
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
The story being told was great, but there was a lot of unnecessary details and information that seemed to bog it down. I had never heard of this case before, but the ending was pretty predictable, even with avoiding the included photographs. Too much filler and repeated information that wasn’t even pertinent to the story. Needs better copy editing done. Wrong words used, spelling and grammar mistakes galore. I feel I should have just Googled this case to get the story.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought the story was compelling but a bit long. Some of the details seemed unnecessary to me, but it was an easy read and would recommend this book for lovers of true crime. I think it's cool that my family actually moved to Sycamore shortly after the crime happened so reading about it after hearing my grandmother talk about it made the book that more compelling. ...more
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Charles Lachman is Executive Producer of the television news magazine show, Inside Edition. Previously he was Managing Editor of the nightly news broadcasts at WNYW-TV in New York City and was a reporter for the New York Post.

Lachman is the author of In the Name of the Law, The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family, A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cle

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