Another of John Wayne Gacy’s victims has finally been identified more than 40 years after death 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 officers discovered in Gacy’s crawl space in December 1978. He was killed sometime between early 1976 and 1977, where he would have been just 21 or 22 years old, according to Sheriff Tom Dart in Cook County.
He was one of six victims who still had not been identified more than 40 years later.
Gacy murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men in the 1970s in Chicago.
Dart said Alexander’s family had been unaware that he had been dead the entire time. They had thought he had decided to sever ties with his family and never talk to them again.
“They just loved him, but they thought he did not want to do anything more with them, so that’s why there was never a missing person’s report,” Dart told a news conference Monday.
Alexander’s family was notified of the discovery on October 22, police said. While the news was heavy, Alexander’s sister Carolyn Sander made a statement to police, 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 difficult, even 45 years later, to know the fate of our beloved Wayne. He was killed at the hands of a disgusting and evil man,” Sanders said. “Our hearts are heavy and our sympathies go to the families of the other victims. Our only consolation is to know that this killer no longer breathes the same air that we do.
“We can now rest in what happened and move forward by honoring Wayne.”
The sheriff’s office said it cooperated with the DNA Doe Project [DDP], a non-profit organization that uses genetic information to locate relatives of unidentified deceased. The DDP found potential relatives and collected DNA samples from Alexander’s mother and half-brother to confirm police’s suspicion that he was a victim.
Police searched public records to match the DNA of the man and found a traffic fine issued to Alexander and a financial record 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 married, and then to Chicago, where he divorced in 1975. He lived in the Gacy area, which committed its atrocities between 1972 and 1978. It is unclear how the two crossed roads.
Gacy was executed in 1994.
Three of Gacy’s victims have been identified since police reopened the investigation into eight unidentified victims in 2011: Francis Wayne Alexander, James Haakenson and William Bundy.
Police hope to be able to identify the remaining five victims using similar genealogical science that helped identify Alexander.
“These unidentified young men brutally murdered by this cruel 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 their investigation into Gacy’s murder has helped resolve four cold cases and locate five missing people alive and two others dead.