Another of John Wayne Gacy’s victims has finally been identified more than 40 years after dying at the hands of the twisted killer.
Francis Wayne Alexander, of North Carolina, was identified through dental and DNA records, law enforcement announced Monday.
Alexander’s body was one of 26 cops discovered in Gacy’s crawl space in December 1978. He was killed sometime between early 1976 and 1977, when he would have been just 21 or 22 years old, according to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
He was one of six victims that had still not been identified over more than 40 years later.
Gacy murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men in the 1970s in Chicago.
Dart said that Alexander’s family had been unaware that he had been dead all this time. They had believed that he had decided to cut ties with his family and never speak with them again.
“They just loved him, but they thought that he wanted nothing more to do with them, so that’s why there was never a missing person’s report,” Dart said at a press conference Monday.
Alexander’s family was notified of the discovery on Oct. 22, police said. While the news was difficult, Alexander’s sister Carolyn Sander’s provided a statement to law enforcement thanking them for the closure that this has brought his surviving family, which includes his mother, two half-sisters and two half-brothers.
“It is hard, even 45 years later, to know the fate of our beloved Wayne. He was killed at the hands of a vile and evil man,” Sanders said. “Our hearts are heavy, and our sympathies go out to the other victims’ families. Our only comfort is knowing this killer no longer breathes the same air as we do.
“We can now lay to rest what happened and move forward by honoring Wayne.”
The sheriff’s office said it collaborated with the DNA Doe Project [DDP], a nonprofit organization that uses genetic information to locate relatives of unidentified decedents. DDP located potential relatives and collected DNA samples from Alexander’s mother and half-brother to confirm police suspicions that he was a victim.
Police pored over public records to match the DNA to the man, and found a traffic ticket issued to Alexander and a financial recording showing he earned a small income in 1976. He disappeared from records after this time.
The Sheriff said Alexander was born in North Carolina before moving to New York where he was married, and then to Chicago where he was divorced in 1975. He lived in the area of Gacy, who committed his atrocities between 1972 and 1978. It’s unclear how the two crossed paths.
Gacy was executed in 1994.
Three of Gacy’s victims have been identified since cops reopened the investigation of eight unidentified victims in 2011: Francis Wayne Alexander, James Haakenson, and William Bundy.
Cops hope to identify the remaining five victims using similar genealogical science that helped identify Alexander.
“These unidentified young men brutally murdered by this vicious serial killer deserve dignity and that includes knowing their names,” Sheriff Dart said. “As science evolves, it is important for us to continually apply these new tools to both new and old cases to help victims and their families.”
The Sheriff’s Office said its investigation into Gacy’s murders has helped solve four cold cases and locate five missing persons alive and two others deceased.