Four decades ago, 29 bodies were exhumed from the yard and a crawl space of John Wayne Gacy’s home in Norwood Park, Ill. Six remain unidentified.
Investigators, still hoping to provide names to the victims of the Gacy serial killings, have released facial reconstructions of two victims, labeled as “John Doe 10” and “John Doe 13.” The reconstructions were developed by a forensic artist with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and released in cooperation with the Cook County, Ill., Sheriff’s Office.
John Doe 10 is a white male whose age is estimated at 17 to 21. His hair and eye color are unknown, but investigators say they think he was just under 6-foot tall. Because of the presence of new teeth fillings, investigators believe he had recently visited a dentist. He also had a previous and well-healed left clavicle injury.
John Doe 13 is also a white male, believed to have been between 18 and 22 at the time of his death. He could have been just below or just above six feet tall. He had dark brown, wavy hair, and one of his upper teeth was displaced behind another tooth.
Both of these young men are believed to have fallen victim to Gacy during his killing spree that spanned 1972 to 1978. During that time Gacy, a native of Waterloo, looked for potential victims at bus stations, concert halls and gay bars.
Because one of the previously unidentified Gacy victims was determined last year to be 16-year-old James “Jimmie” Haakenson, originally from St. Paul, Minn., investigators believe the new reconstructions could be of other Midwestern young men who traveled to the Chicago area. In addition to the two victims with facial reconstructions, four more victims remain unidentified.
As most readers will remember, Gacy was tried and convicted of 33 murders of teenage boys and young men in 1980. After serving 14 years on death row, he was executed by the state of Illinois in 1994, taking with him any additional information about those he tortured and killed.
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The investigation into the unknown victims was reopened by Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart in 2011, resulting in the identification of two Gacy victims. The effort also has solved four unrelated cold cases, helped find five missing people alive and two others who had died.
Recent events have proved that remains can be identified, and that there are families still needing to know what happened to their loved ones.
In the case of Jimmie Haakenson, for instance, his mother had come to police after Gacy was arrested. Technology at that time did not provide positive identification. The identification was made last year after law enforcement compared DNA from the remains to that of Haakenson’s siblings.
It isn’t too late.
Those who may have information about the young men in the reconstructed photos should contact the Sheriff’s Office at (708) 865-6244 or the NCMEC at (800) 843-5678.
• Comments: @LyndaIowa, (319) 368-8513, firstname.lastname@example.org