Terdapat satu kes jenayah yang berlaku pada tahun 1957 dahulu yang pernah menggemparkan Amerika Syarikat pada ketika itu. Ia menjadi tajuk berita utama di media massa, malah turut mendapat perhatian Presiden Amerika ketika itu iaitu Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Kisah penculikan dan pembunuhan seorang gadis berusia 7 tahun bernama Maria Ridulph dari Sycamore, Illinois amat menyayat hati. Beliau hilang ketika sedang bermain di suatu petang tanggal 3 Disember 1957. 5 bulan kemudian mayatnya yang mana dipotong beberapa bahagian ditemui 100 batu dari rumahnya.

Ketika diculik, satu-satunya saksi kejadian adalah teman sepermainan maria iaitu Kathy. Menurut Kathy terdapat seorang lelaki mendekati mereka pada hari kejadian yang mana lelaki tersebut mnegenalkan dirinya sebagai Johnny. Kathy meninggalkan Maria dan Johnny pada suatu ketika dan apabila Kathy datang kembali ke tempat permainan tersebut Maria sudah hilang disyaki diculik.

FBI memanggil Kathy untuk merakam keterangannya. Selepas itu, terdapat beberapa suspek yang disenaraikan tetapi suspek yang paling “kuat” untuk dikaitkan adalah John Tessier. Pertamanya, John adalah satu nama yang menghampiri nama Johnny seperti yang disebut oleh Kathy sebelum ini. Keduanya, kerana suspek tinggal berhampiran dengan kejiranan Maria Ridulph.

4 disember 1957, penyiasat menyerbu rumah John Tessier yang mana ketika itu supek berusia 18 tahun dan tinggal bersama kedua ibu bapa dan adik-beradiknya. Ibu John Tessier memberi laporan kepada FBI menyatakan ketika kejadian Maria diculik, suspek ada di rumah sepanjang masa. Tetapi semasa soal siasat di waktu yang lain ibu suspek memberitahu yang anaknya menaiki keretapi pergi ke Rockford, Illinois iaitu 40 batu dari tempat tinggal mereka. Yang mana kenyataan terbaru ini bercanggah deengan kenyataan yang pertama. John Tessier sudah tentu menafikan pembabitannya dalam kejadian ini.

John Tessier telah dibawa ke balai polis untuk diuji menggunakan mesin “lie detector”. Berpandukan alibi dan keputusan ujian tersebut, John Tessier telah lulus ujian dan dilepaskan dari siasatan.

Hari demi hari telah berlalu dan kes ini telah dilupakan setelah tiada perkembangan siasatan dilaporkan sehinggalah pada tahun 2008 suatu perkara ajaib telah berlaku. Kakak kepada suspek membuat laporan bahawa pada tahun 1994 ketika ibu mereka sedang nazak sebelum meninggal dunia, ibunya memberitahu, “John melakukannya, John melakukannya, kamu harus laporkannya”. Kakak kepada John percaya apa yang diberitahu oleh ibu mereka merujuk kepada kejadian 1957 lalu.

Siasatan lanjut menemui John tidak menaiki keretapi ke Rockford sebaliknya menaiki kereta ke Rockford sejurus selepas suspek menculik Maria. Tujuan penculikan adalah kerana suspek tertarik dengan mangsa dan ingin mencabulnya. Di mahkamah, saksi baru dibawa, dan saksi memberitahu ketika beliau kecil John pernah cuba mendekatinya ketika bermain tetapi beliau tidak menuruti arahan John untuk mengikutnya pulang ke rumah. Beberapa kenalan John turut memberi keterangan di mahkamah bahawa John ada menceritakan bahawa beliau pernah membunuh seseorang ketika zaman mudanya.

Akhirnya pada tahun 2012 mahkamah menjatuhkan hukuman penjara seumur hidup kepada John setelah mahkamah mendapati terdapat bukti kukuh untuk mengaitkan John dengan jenayah ini. Tetapi pada tahun 2016 Mahkamah Rayuan telah membebaskan John Tessier kerana tiada bukti kukuh untuk jatuhkan hukuman terhadapnya. Hingga hari ini, kes bunun ini masih menjadi misteri dan pembunuh yang telah melakukan jenayah kejam ini masih bebas.

“Fight Injustice Everywhere”

Dato’ Sri Sanjeevan Ramakrishnan


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