Cook Co. sheriff IDs another victim of John Wayne Gacy

Decades after John Wayne Gacy killed the last of his 33 victims and was executed by the state, authorities have kept the serial killer's possessions and DNA of six unidentified victims under tight security

July 21, 2017

Decades after John Wayne Gacy killed the last of his 33 victims and was executed by the state, authorities have kept the serial killer's possessions and DNA of six unidentified victims under tight security, the I-Team has learned.

Even as the Cook County Sheriff's Department announced on Wednesday that it had identified one of Gacy's long unknown victims as teenager from Minnesota, evidence of the killer's monstrous attacks remains locked up in a southwest side government warehouse. The evidence and DNA samples could be useful in trying to identify the six others.
Among the items examined by our I-Team in the Gacy vault are a rope and a pair of handcuffs used by Gacy to restrain and then kill his young victims.

Gacy, a building contractor who sometimes also performed as Pogo the clown at neighborhood events, would demonstrate magic tricks to teenage boys he had met or picked up. Investigators say the trick would end with soon-to-be victims manacled to a bed or chair. After sexually assaulting them, Gacy would then perform what he called his "rope trick," resulting in their strangulation.

The victims were found buried in Gacy's crawlspace at his northwest side home.
"Many times he was killing so many people that he was burying people on top of each other" said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart on Wednesday.

In 2011 Sheriff Dart ordered the exhumation of eight Gacy victims who were never identified. One body was ID'd shortly thereafter and on Wednesday Dart announced that a second had been identified through DNA as 16-year-old James "Jimmie" Byron Haakenson. The teenager had left his home in Minnesota in 1976 and was last heard from in August of that year when he called his mother and said he was in Chicago.

"Every family deserves to have closure," said Dart.
Over the years the I-Team has been provided unusual access to the Gacy Vault. Inside the evidence warehouse are photos of Gacy's house, the crawlspace where he stored his victims and the young boys who never made it out of his grasp.

For years authorities have questioned whether Gacy could have been stopped before his mass murders even started in Chicago. FBI records show that in 1968 while living in Waterloo, Iowa where he managed a fast food restaurant, Gacy was convicted of raping a teenage boy. He was sentenced to ten years at the Anamosa state penitentiary but released on parole after just 18 months and moved to Chicago.

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By , Ravi Baichwal and Barb MarkoffWednesday, July 19, 2017 06:30PMCHICAGO (WLS) -- Decades after John Wayne Gacy killed the last of his 33 victims and was executed by the state, authorities have kept the serial killer's possessions and DNA of six unidentified victims under tight security, the I-Team has learned.


Even as the Cook County Sheriff's Department announced on Wednesday that it had identified one of Gacy's long unknown victims as teenager from Minnesota, evidence of the killer's monstrous attacks remains locked up in a southwest side government warehouse. The evidence and DNA samples could be useful in trying to identify the six others.
Among the items examined by our I-Team in the Gacy vault are a rope and a pair of handcuffs used by Gacy to restrain and then kill his young victims.

Gacy, a building contractor who sometimes also performed as Pogo the clown at neighborhood events, would demonstrate magic tricks to teenage boys he had met or picked up. Investigators say the trick would end with soon-to-be victims manacled to a bed or chair. After sexually assaulting them, Gacy would then perform what he called his "rope trick," resulting in their strangulation.

The victims were found buried in Gacy's crawlspace at his northwest side home.

"Many times he was killing so many people that he was burying people on top of each other" said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart on Wednesday.
In 2011 Sheriff Dart ordered the exhumation of eight Gacy victims who were never identified. One body was ID'd shortly thereafter and on Wednesday Dart announced that a second had been identified through DNA as 16-year-old James "Jimmie" Byron Haakenson. The teenager had left his home in Minnesota in 1976 and was last heard from in August of that year when he called his mother and said he was in Chicago.

"Every family deserves to have closure," said Dart.
Over the years the I-Team has been provided unusual access to the Gacy Vault. Inside the evidence warehouse are photos of Gacy's house, the crawlspace where he stored his victims and the young boys who never made it out of his grasp.
For years authorities have questioned whether Gacy could have been stopped before his mass murders even started in Chicago. FBI records show that in 1968 while living in Waterloo, Iowa where he managed a fast food restaurant, Gacy was convicted of raping a teenage boy. He was sentenced to ten years at the Anamosa state penitentiary but released on parole after just 18 months and moved to Chicago.
A 1978 file photo shows serial killer John Wayne Gacy. (FILE)


When he moved Gacy did not appear to be on law enforcement's radar and his killing spree began in 1972, shortly after arriving on the northwest side. According to an Iowa prison official Gacy vowed he wouldn't return to jail...and said that the best way to accomplish that was to never leave any witnesses.

On May 10, 1994 Gacy was executed by lethal injection at the Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet.

Dart had asked that relatives of young men who vanished between 1970 and Gacy's 1978 arrest submit saliva samples so that their DNA could be compared with the DNA of the remains. He said he hoped advances in scientific technology would allow investigators to figure out who the eight victims were.

Two siblings of the teen were among the scores of relatives who submitted saliva samples. Dart said that there was a "strong genetic association" between the siblings and the teen's remains. Haakenson's family was notified on July 17.

Sixty-one-year-old Lorie Sisterman of North St. Paul said Wednesday that detectives came to her home and let her family know that "victim No. 24 is our brother." She said she's glad to finally know where her brother is after Illinois authorities identified him as a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.


Sisterman says the family plans to go to Chicago to put Haakenson's name and dates of birth and death on his grave.


Haakenson is the second of the eight victims to be identified. Months after Dart had the bodies exhumed, his office announced that it had identified one of the victims 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. Gacy, a Chicago-area building contractor, lured young men to his home by impersonating a police officer or promising them construction work. There, he stabbed one and strangled the others before he buried most of them in the crawl space or dumped the others in a river.
The Associate Press contributed to this report.

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Cook Co. sheriff IDs another victim of John Wayne Gacy | abc7chicago.com

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