Identifying the Victims of Gacy

Scientists at the University of North Texas in Fort Worth are trying to help solve the final mysteries left by notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy.


The unidentified remains of eight victims are undergoing DNA testing at the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification at the request of authorities in Cook County, Ill., where Gacy killed 33 young men and boys.

While most of Gacy's victims have been identified, authorities hope that DNA testing, which was not available during Gacy's murder spree more than three decades ago, will put names to the rest.

The lab has extracted DNA from the remains, but testing will continue for another month or more, said Arthur Eisenberg, co-director of the identification center at the Health Science Center in Fort Worth.

After that will come the potentially difficult task of trying to match the DNA samples to those taken from people who believe a family member was among Gacy's victims.

"We can have all the DNA samples from all the unidentified remains in the world and unless we have something to compare them to, we will never identify a single person," said Eisenberg, also professor and chairman of the department of forensic and investigative genetics.

The Cook County Sheriff's Department asked the Center for Human Identification for help in April, Eisenberg said. In June, authorities sent the lab eight exhumed jawbones.

After some testing, scientists at the center told authorities that "long bones" like femurs would help the process because they generally preserve DNA longer. Most of the remains are about 35 years old.

Authorities sent the center the femurs from four victims in September, he said.

Cook County authorities have set up a hotline and are asking families whose loved ones disappeared around the time of Gacy's murders to submit DNA samples for comparison. The identification lab processes 1,200 to 1,800 samples a year from the families of missing people, and those family reference samples will also be compared with the DNA from Gacy's victims, Eisenberg said.

"We hope we can help provide some answers to the families of these remaining unidentified victims," he said.

The Gacy killings took place between 1972 and 1978. He was a building contractor who also performed as a clown, and he buried many of his victims beneath his house. He was executed by lethal injection in 1994.

Most of his victims were identified using dental records.

The Center for Human Identification has helped identify over 700 people nationwide.

It also assisted authorities in attempts to identify remains of victims of the Green River Killer, who is believed to have killed more than 40 women around Seattle during the 1980s and 1990s.

Written by Alex Branch, Star-Telegram
View the original article here.

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