Since this prolific killer was known to travel extensively, it is still likely that additional murders could be attributed to him and closed for investigative agencies and victims' families.
Gacy was put to death in 1994. This was before an Illinois law allowed the DNA of convicted felons to be put into the database. There had not been any provision in Illinois law to allow Gacy's DNA to be added to CODIS as a felon. Therefore, other states with cold cases could not attempt to match DNA samples to Gacy...until now.
Cook County , Illinois, Sheriff's Detective Jason Moran became aware of vials of Gacy's blood in evidence with police and with the coroner's office. He also learned about a loophole. "Moran learned that when the state executes an inmate, the cornoner lists the manner of death as homicide. The law allows for the DNA of homicide victims to be added to the database" (CNN.com, 12-5-2012).
This loophole enabled law enforcement in Illinois to add the DNA of three executed murderers: John Wayne Gacy, Walter Stewart and Durlyn Eddmonds, to CODIS.
"Among the avenues investigators are now pursuing is the case of two teenage boys who were raped and slain in Michigan in the 1970s, when Gacy's killing was at its height and he was believed to have traveled to Michigan" (Chicagotribune.com, 1-29-2013).
There is another case being looked into on the East Coast. At the same time, investigators are making plans to reexamine the Illinois property where Gacy's mother once lived.
Without CSI units collecting DNA in the 70's and 80's, identifying the decomposing remains of Gacy's victims was difficult. They had relied upon dental records and X-rays. Perhaps now his eight unidentified victims will have names...the right names.
In November 2011, DNA identified the man formerly referred to as Victim 19 as William George "Bill" Bundy, who had been reported missing in 1976. His sister, then 19 years old, suspected that her brother had been murdered when numerous remains were removed from under Gacy's home. She said her mother, now deceased, had always been in denial, and her brother's missing persons case was not pursued aggressively back then (CNN.com, 11-29-2011)
One family had believed that a man missing for 35 years had been murdered by Gacy. He disappeared during the height of Gacy's killing stint and his abandoned car was left near Chicago's O'Hare airport. In November 2011, the family gave DNA samples. It turns out that Theodore "Ted" Szal left home on his own and is still living in Oregon (Chicagotribune.com, 10-26-2012).
The mother of one boy missing from that period got other news when she paid to exhume the body whose grave she had visited routinely. She had doubted the identification because of "discrepancies she discovered in the dental records" (Chicagotribune.com, 10-26-2012). Her lawyers confirmed that DNA results showed that the remains were not her son. The orthodontist who made the original identification stands by it. There is some question of whether or not remains were mislabeled.
According to the mother's attorneys, "The identifications of all of Gacy's victims now are suspect and should be reviewed using DNA" (Chicagotribune.com, 10-26-2012).
Detectives who investigate serial killers often wonder if all of the victims have been identified. We know that not all of Gacy's have been. Perhaps DNA and cooperation will enable victims' families to have answers, no matter how unpleasant. Occasionally the family of a person believed to have been murdered, like Ted Szal, will discover that he is alive and well, even if separated by choice. Hopefully DNA profiles of executed inmates in other states will be added to CODIS.
Associated Press, "John Wayne Gacy's DNA May Help Solve Cold-Case Murders," NOLA.com, 12-3-2012.
Duke, Alan, "Cold case cops find new DNA Strategy," CNN.com, 12-5-2012.
FBI, "Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)," FBI.gov, (accessed 2-6-2013).
Mills, Steve, "Woman's Attorneys Say DNA Proves Gacy Victim was not Her Missing Son," Chicagotribune.com, 10-26-2012.
Mills, Steve, and Patrick Svitek, "Authorities Continue Search for Gacy Victims," Chicagotribune.com, 1-29-2013.
Wire Staff, "Illlinois IDs Gacy Victim After 3 Decades," CNN.com, 11-29-2011.