COOK COUNTY, IL – Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced that one of the six remaining unnamed John Wayne Gacy victims has been identified with the assistance of genetic genealogy.
Cook County Sheriff’s Police identified Victim #5 found in Gacy’s crawl space on Dec. 26,1978 as Francis Wayne Alexander. He was killed by Gacy sometime between early 1976 and early 1977. Alexander would have been 21 or 22 years old at the time of his murder.
Sheriff’s Police made formal notification to Alexander’s family on Oct. 22. He is survived by his mother, two half-sisters and two half-brothers. The family issued the following statement via Carolyn Sanders, Wayne’s sister.
Let us start by thanking Sheriff Tom Dart, Lieutenant Jason Moran, the hardworking officers of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and the DNA Doe Project. Without their tireless efforts our family would not have the closure we do now.
It is hard, even 45 years later, to know the fate of our beloved Wayne. He was killed at the hands of a vile and evil man. Our hearts are heavy and our sympathies go out to the other victims’ families. Our only comfort is knowing this killer no longer breathes the same air as we do.
We can now lay to rest what happened and move forward by honoring Wayne. We ask that you respect our wishes of privacy as we process this tragedy.
A mother who now has closure
Sisters who now have closure
Brothers who now have closure
As part of the investigation, Sheriff’s Police collaborated with the DNA Doe Project (DDP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to using genetic information to locate relatives of the unidentified deceased. Using a DNA profile produced for genealogical research, DDP compared the victim’s profile to others on a genealogy website and found potential relatives. Individuals submitting DNA for family lineage to those websites can choose to allow their data to be used for such purposes. Additional research by the group provided a lead to indicate Alexander may be Victim #5.
Using this information, Sheriff’s Police investigated whether Alexander could be connected to Gacy. DNA samples from his mother and a half-brother were collected to confirm the validity of the lead. Their DNA samples and that of the victim’s had a strong genetic association.
Sheriff’s Police also combed through financial records, public records, post-mortem reports, and other data to confirm that Victim #5 and Alexander were the same person. The information included that the last record for Alexander was a traffic ticket on Jan. 5,1976 and financial records revealed he earned little income in 1976. Sheriff’s Police found there is no other proof of life for Alexander after this time. Alexander lived in an area that was frequented by Gacy and where other identified victims had previously lived.
Alexander was born in North Carolina and then lived for a time in New York before moving to Chicago. He was married for approximately three months and divorced in 1975.
Gacy killed 33 teenage boys and young men in Chicago from 1972 to 1978. He was executed for his crimes in 1994. Sheriff’s Police led the original death investigations of the victims found in Gacy’s unincorporated Norwood Park home in 1978. In 2011 Sheriff Dart re-opened the investigation to identify the eight remaining unnamed victims.
“These unidentified young men brutally murdered by this vicious 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.”
Three victims have been identified since 2011: Francis Wayne Alexander, James Haakenson, and William Bundy. In the process, the Sheriff’s Office also solved four cold case deaths, unrelated to Gacy, located five missing persons alive, and two missing persons who had died without their families’ knowledge.
The investigation into the remaining five unidentified Gacy victims is ongoing. Investigators will utilize the latest technologies in that process, including genetic genealogy, where practical.
Anyone who believes their male relative may have been a Gacy victim is asked to visit our website or call Sheriff’s Police at 708-865-6244.
Sheriff Dart would like to thank the DNA Doe Project, the Erwin, North Carolina Police Department, and the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for their assistance in this investigation.