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Genealogy data helps authorities identify 1 of 6 unidentified victims of Gacy

William Lee, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO — The man formerly known to investigators as Gacy victim No. 5 finally has a name thanks to advances in DNA testing and analysis.

Genealogy information helped Cook County investigators identify a young North Carolina native as one of the unidentified victims of John Wayne Gacy. Francis Wayne Alexander disappeared between February 1976 and March 1977, according to authorities.

On Monday, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart released Alexander’s identity following a two-year investigation that, with the help of DNA experts, cleared a 43-year-old mystery that continues for five others slain by Chicago’s most notorious serial killer.

Dart made the announcement along with the Gacy lead investigator and members of the nonprofit DNA Doe Project, which helps law enforcement agencies identify bodies through DNA.

Alexander’s body was one of the unidentifiable bodies found in Gacy’s crawl space beneath his former home at 8213 W. Summerdale Ave. in Norwood Park Township.

Authorities didn’t say how they suspect Alexander and Gacy crossed paths but said the victim lived near another one of Gacy’s victims, William Bundy, and that he lived and worked in areas that Gacy was known to prowl for victims.


Alexander “had the misfortune of living in the area where John Wayne Gacy did most of his killing, where he targeted most of his victims,” Dart said. “He also had the misfortune of operating in an area where Gacy targeted specific people and specific groups.”

Alexander’s family never made a missing-person report, thinking he had intentionally estranged himself following the end of his three-month marriage in 1975. “His family thought that he wanted to be just left alone,” Dart told reporters.

Authorities believe Alexander lived in Chicago for at least a year before he disappeared.

Officials compared Alexander’s identification with the kind of DNA testing and comparison that led to the arrest and conviction of Joseph James DeAngelo, the so-called Golden State Killer, in 2018.


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