Illinois sheriff identifies another victim of John Wayne Gacy as 16-year-old runaway
CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago-area sheriff announced Wednesday that his office has identified a teenager who vanished in the 1970s as a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
The Cook County Sheriff's Department said in a news release that the victim was James Byron Haakenson, a 16-year-old who ran away from Minnesota. The teenager's remains were among those of more than two dozen young men found in the crawl space of Gacy's Chicago area home in 1978 and one of eight who were buried without being identified.
In 2011, Sheriff Tom Dart ordered the bodies exhumed and asked relatives of young men who vanished between 1970 and Gacy's 1978 arrest to submit saliva samples to compare their DNA with that of the victims.
Haakenson is the second of the eight to be identified. Months after the exhumations, Dart announced that one of the victims had been identified as William George Bundy, a 19-year-old construction worker.
The investigation has also solved four cold cases that were not related to Gacy, locating five missing persons who were still alive and two who had died elsewhere in the U.S. For example, in 2013, Dart announced that thanks to the DNA collection in the Gacy case, investigators were able to identify remains found in a wooded area in New Jersey as a teenager who ran away from a nearby orphanage in 1972.
Gacy is remembered as one of history's most bizarre killers, largely because of his work as an amateur clown. He was convicted of killing 33 young men, sometimes luring them to his Chicago-area home for sex by impersonating a police officer or promising them construction work. He was executed in 1994.