One of eight unknown Gacy victims has been identified by police, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced Tuesday. The identification of William George Bundy, who disappeared in October 1976, was made after a renewed effort to identify the unknown victims began earlier this year.
The Gacy case began in Des Plaines. Advancements in DNA technology made the identification of Bundy, formerly known as victim No. 19, possible, according to a press release published by the sheriff’s office.
“Closure is great but my only wish in this particular case would have been that we could have provided some sort of closure for William’s mother and father before they passed away,” Dart said in the release. “I do hope and pray that Laura and Robert might find some peace and closure with the news today.”
Bundy’s brother and sister gave investigators swabs on the inside of the cheek, known as buccal swabs, to obtain DNA from cells, according to the release. Work completed at the University of North Texas’ Center for Human Identification made the positive match between Bundy and his sister Laura and brother Robert.
Some of his 33 victims remained unidentified long after Gacy's trial and eventual execution by lethal injection in 1994, thus relegated to cold-case status.
Last month Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s investigators exhumed skeletal remains of eight unidentified victims in an attempt to use modern DNA techniques to match names with the bones. Some 120 families of long-missing youths contacted the sheriff’s office, many with DNA information, hoping to find closure.
Coincidentally, a presumed Gacy victim turned up alive in Tampa, FL. recently. Harold Wayne Lovell disappeared in 1977 on his way to look for work in Aurora, but in reality decided to run away from his home due to family problems, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on Oct. 27. He settled in Florida, staying out of contact with his worried family.
Relatives found a police booking photo of him online, and reunited with him in Alabama, according to a report by WDHN in Dothan, Alabama.
One Missing Des Plaines Teen Unraveled Gacy
Des Plaines police first became involved in the case while following up leads of a missing Des Plaines teenager, Robert Piest. Des Plaines officers arrested John Wayne Gacy, one of the most sensational mass-murder cases in history, at his Norwood Park Township home on Dec. 21, 1978.
Since Gacy lived in an unincorporated part of the township, by Norridge, the sheriff’s office then became the primary law enforcement agency handling the case, involving the murders of dozens teenage boys throughout the 1970s.
Amid the Gacy revival, were only interested spectators, as no new local connection has yet been found. But the recent turn of events reminded the department of their crucial role in the sensational saga, bringing to mind other cold cases, including several in Des Plaines files.
“It’s a great sense of pride for the police department as the agency that initiated the investigation and [helped] bring closure to most of the families of the victims,” said Des Plaines Police Chief James Prandini. “It was a big deal for us and continues to be.”
Prandini said it was interesting in the early part of his career to listen to the stories that different investigators had, and the different responsibilities they had, piecing it all together.
“It’s good for the department and we’re very proud of the fact we played a major part in this investigation,” Prandini said.