THE FORGOTTEN ONES

On this day in 1981 the skeletal remains of nine unknown John Wayne Gacy victims were properly laid to rest. The service was held at a funeral chapel in a western suburb of Chicago. The unknown young men laid in matching copper-colored caskets, positioned in a half circle and adorned with flower arrangements. The caskets were marked with numbers ranging one to nine. After a brief ceremony they were taken to various cemeteries around the greater Chicago area where a few words were said over the caskers by a trio of clergymen (a minister, rabbi and priest), their unidentified remains were solemnly lowered into the ground. The cost of the caskets, burial vaults and gravestones were paid for by The Funeral Directors Association of Greater Chicago. Initially the multiple burial sites were to be kept secret to prevent them from becoming tourist attractions, however in recent years several have been photographed and are listed on findagrave.com

The headstones were simple, bearing only a solitary inscription, ‘We remembered.’

Just 5 years after these young men were laid to rest the identity of one of them was uncovered. He was 16 year old Timothy Jack McCoy. Gacy’s first victim. On January 3, 1972 McCoy had stopped for a layover at the Greyhound bus station in the Loop while traveling back home to Glenwood, Iowa where he lived with his Aunt and Uncle. Based on Gacy’s confession it was determined he picked up the boy, took him back to his house and stabbed him in the chest. Dr. Edward Pavlik identified Timothy using dental records, his distinctive teeth helping in the process. Upon identification his remains were exhumed and his body returned to his family.

Another young man who was originally buried as a John Doe was identified using DNA in 2011, he was 19 year old William George Bundy of Chicago. Prior to identification William Bundy was known as Victim number 19. It was October 1975 when Bundy told his family members he was going to a party. They noticed he left his wallet behind and expected him to return shortly, he never did. An accomplished gymnast and diver, Bundy dropped out of school to begin work as an electrician and some believe Gacy lured him with the promise of employment. Bundy’s family members have long suspected that he was killed by Gacy. His sister, Laura O’Leary has been quoted saying, ” He was learning to be an electrician and when that happened and I found out that Gacy was a contractor, I just … I just knew it.” It was her call to detectives that began the DNA collection and verification process. After 35 years Victim number 19 finally had a name. William George Bundy. He is interred at Resurrection Cemetery. Interestingly the Bundy family has several relatives buried there and they have visited often, never knowing their brother was also buried in an unmarked grave. They have since installed a proper marker with his full name.

Victim number 24 was identified in July of 2017 as 16 year old James (Jimmy) Haakenson. A runaway from St. Paul Minnesota, he made telephone contact with his family was on August 5, 1976, Telling his mother he was in Chicago and that he was alright. Police believe Gacy murdered him not long after that telephone call, going as far to speculate that call could’ve been made from Gacy’s home. The story of how Haakenson was identified is an interesting one. A nephew he never got the chance to meet wrote a Chicago Detective stating he never stopped wondering what became of his long lost Uncle. Thus began the process and positive identification of Haakenson was made using DNA supplied by a brother and sister. While Haakenson’s Family traveled from Minnesota to properly mark his grave, he remains interred at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Chicago, the same cemetery where William George Bundy was laid to rest.

While three of the nine unknown Gacy victims have been identified. Six remain nameless. As recently as July 2018 the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Cook County sheriff’s office released facial reconstruction images of two of the six unidentified victims. The renderings are of John Doe’s numbered 10 and 13. The numbers were assigned to the young men based on the order in which they were exhumed from Gacy’s crawl space.

John Doe #10
The remains belong to a white male, 17-21 years old. He stood approximately 5′7″ – 5′11″ tall. His hair color and eye color is unknown. He had sustained an injury to his left clavicle prior to his death that had healed well over time. The male also had been treated by a dentist prior to his death, as a few dental fillings were observed.

John Doe #13
The remains have been determined to belong to a white male, 18-22 years old. He stood approximately 5′9″ – 6′02″ tall. He had dark brown wavy hair. One of his upper teeth was displaced behind another tooth. It is possible that this characteristic would have been noticeable to others. The four other Does

John Doe #5
Caucasian male, age 22-32; height 5’7″ to 5’11”
Disappeared between Jan. 20, 1976, and March 15, 1977.

John Doe #21
Caucasian male, age 21-27; height 5’8″ to 6′
Disappeared between Aug. 6, 1976, and Oct. 25, 1976.

John Doe #26
Caucasian male, age 22-30; height 5’2″ to 5’6″
Disappeared between June 13, 1976, and Aug. 6, 1976.

John Doe #28
Caucasian male, age 14-18; height 5’6″ to 5’11”
Disappeared between Jan. 3, 1972, and July 31, 1975.

The Cook County sheriff’s department released a statement asking that anyone with a family member fitting the descriptions above and who went missing during the periods indicated should contact them to supply a DNA sample for comparison. For more information visit: cookcountysheriff.org/unidentified-victims-john-wayne-gacy.

SOURCE CITATIONS

40 Years Later Six Victims of- John Wayne Gacy are Still Unidentified. Daily Herald. December 21, 2018

LAST 9 GACY VICTIMS, STILL UNIDENTIFIED, ARE BURIED. The New York Times. June 14, 1981

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s