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Sheriff identifies another victim of 1970s serial killer John Wayne Gacy

By Don Jacobson
Sheriff identifies another victim of 1970s serial killer John Wayne Gacy
Francis Wayne Alexander, originally from North Carolina, was identified Monday as a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, dying sometime between early 1976 and early 1977 at age 21 or 22. Photo courtesy Cook County Sheriff's Department/Twitter

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- A North Carolina man was named by authorities Monday as one the previously unidentified victims whose remains were found in 1978 at the Chicago-area home of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart told reporters that Francis Wayne Alexander was among a group of eight victims whose identities had remained a mystery when a probe of Gacy's murders was reopened in 2011.

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Two others among that group have also since been identified by using DNA records -- James Haakenson in 2017 and William Bundy in 2011.

The state of Illinois executed Gacy in 1994 for the murders of 33 boys and young men, eight of which were initially unidentified. Dental records were the primary identification tool used by forensic scientists at the time, but none were available for the remaining eight.

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Dart said Alexander's remains were found in a crawlspace at Gacy's Norwood Park, Ill., home, and he had probably died sometime between early 1976 and early 1977, making him 21 or 22 years old at the time.

The sheriff said Alexander had moved to Chicago from North Carolina in February 1975 and worked at several bars and clubs. He lived in the same North Side neighborhood as several other of Gacy's victims.

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Identifying Alexander, who had previously been designated only as "Victim No. 5," involved the "typical painstaking work of finding out when [Alexander] was last seen, tax records, parking tickets ... we were able to put all of this together and combine it with the DNA," Dart said.

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With the help of the nonprofit DNA Doe Project, authorities found potential relatives via a genealogy website and confirmed Alexander's identity from a match with his mother and half-brother.

The family, in a statement issued through the sheriff's office, thanked the Cook County investigators for their work, adding, "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. Our hearts are heavy, and our sympathies go out to the other victims' families."

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