New John Wayne Gacy victim is identified 45 years after murder

New John Wayne Gacy victim is identified 45 years after murder: His family say they can now ‘lay to rest what happened’ decades after his body was found under serial killer’s home where he murdered 33

  • Francis Wayne Alexander is the latest named victim of serial killer John W. Gacy
  • He was 21 or 22 when he was killed between early 1976 and early 1977, police say
  • He was one of eight victims exhumed in 2011 after police buried them without ID
  • Five of them remain unidentified; the last one was named in 2017
  • Deputies teamed up with nonprofit DNA Doe Project to identify Alexander 
  • Gacy raped and killed 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1978 

Authorities have identified the remains of a young man who was killed by serial killer John Wayne Gacy in the late 1970s after they dug up his body along with the remains of seven other unidentified victims a decade ago.

Francis Wayne Alexander would have been 21 or 22 years old when Gacy killed him sometime between early 1976 and early 1977, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Alexander, who shares a middle name with his killer, was originally from North Carolina and was briefly married in 1975. Deputies compared DNA from his remains to his mother and half-brother, who they found on a genealogy website.

Gacy murdered 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1978 at his ranch house in the outskirts of Chicago. He often raped them and killed them by asphyxiation or strangulation. 

Authorities found 26 sets of remains under Gacy’s home in 1978. Eight unidentified bodies were exhumed for identification in 2011, and five remain unnamed. 

Deputies have identified Francis Wayne Alexander, above, as a victim of John Wayne Gacy

Alexander’s body was one of eight unidentified victims who were exhumed in 2011, above

Alexander would have been 21 or 22 years old at the time of his murder, deputies say 

Wayne killed 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1978. He was executed in 1994

Alexander’s sister, Carolyn Sanders, thanked the sheriff’s office for giving the family some level of ‘closure.’

‘It is hard, even 45 years later, to know the fate of our beloved Wayne,’ Sanders wrote.

‘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. We can now lay to rest what happened and move forward by honoring Wayne.’

Alexander’s remains were among 26 sets that police found in the crawl space under Gacy’s home just outside the city in 1978.

Three victims, meanwhile, were found buried on Gacy’s property and four others whom Gacy admitted killing were found in waterways south of Chicago.

In 2011, Dart’s office exhumed the remains of eight victims, including Alexander, who had been buried without police knowing who they were. 

Sheriff Dart called on anyone who had a male relative disappear in the Chicago area in the 1970s to submit DNA. 


Other bodies exhumed in 2011 include those of Jimmy Haakenson, left, who was 16 when he disappeared in 1976, and William Bundy, right, a 19-year-old construction worker

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced that his office had identified Alexander on Monday

John Wayne Gacy, above in 1978, would often sexually abuse his victims before killing them by asphyxiation or strangulation

Active in local politics, he met then-First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1978 as head of Chicago’s annual Polish Constitution Day Parade

That was the time when Gacy was luring young men and boys to his home to eventually kill them.

Within weeks, the sheriff’s office announced that it had identified one set of remains as those of William Bundy, a 19-year-old construction worker.

In 2017, the office identified a second set as those of 16-year-old Jimmy Haakenson, who disappeared after he phoned his mother in Minnesota and told her that he was in Chicago.

‘One of the worst people in the world that walked the Earth murdered my brother,’ Jimmy’s sister Lorie Sisterman said at the time. 

‘You hope for something different,’ she said, adding, ‘I’m so glad to know where my brother is.’

Gacy’s 33 murders made him one of America’s worst killers 

Gacy’s mugshot from December 1978

John Wayne Gacy was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 17, 1942.

The high school dropout graduated from Northwestern Business College in 1963.

He then took a job at a shoe company, rising to department manager.

Gacy married Marlynn Myers in 1964 and managed her father’s KFC franchises in Iowa.

While volunteering at a civic organization there, he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy and later ordered a beating on him to keep him from testifying.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison but only served 18 months.

Myers divorced him and he never saw his children again. 

From 1972 to 1978, he would go on to murder 33 young men and boys.

He would often rape them and torture them, with one man who got away testifying that Gacy put a cloth over his head that made him unconscious.

Gacy was caught after killing 15-year-old Robert Piest, a high school sophomore who worked at a pharmacy that Gacy’s contracting company, PDM, had recently remodeled.

He was questioned by police and released, though he was arrested 10 days after the murder while under police surveillance. 

He was executed by lethal injection at on May 10, 1994.

The details of Alexander’s life in Chicago are sketchy. Born in North Carolina, he moved to New York and then on to Chicago, where he was married for approximately three months before he was divorced in 1975.

According to the sheriff’s office´s news release, the last known record of Alexander’s life was a traffic ticket he received in Chicago in January of 1976 – a year in which he earned little money. 

How he crossed paths with one of the most notorious serial killers in American history is a mystery, as authorities say all they know is that ‘Alexander lived in an area that was frequented by Gacy and where other identified victims had previously lived.’

Gacy – who became known as the ‘serial killer clown’ due to his penchant for dressing up as a circus entertainer – lured his young male victims to his home, before raping, torturing and strangling them. 

He performed at children’s hospitals and charitable events as Pogo the Clown or Patches the Clown.

The serial killer was born in Chicago and was married to Marlynn Myers, with whom he had two children, from 1964 to 1969. 

The couple moved to Iowa, where Gacy agreed to manage Myers’ father’s KFC franchises. 

Myers filed for divorce after Gacy was sentenced to 10 years in prison for oral sodomy against a 15-year-old boy, though he only served 18 months of his sentence.

He established a contracting company called PDM Contractors in 1970. The business would later lead Gacy to his final victim, a 15-year-old employee at a pharmacy that PDM had remodeled.

Gacy had led the teenager to his house by promising him a job. 

His mother reported him missing that night, and Des Plaines police Lt. Joe Kozenczak discovered that Gacy was the last one to see him alive, according to the Chicago Tribune.

He was questioned by police and released. 

Gacy was arrested 10 days after Piest’s murder, when police saw him handing marijuana to a gas station clerk, with the scale of his more serious crimes subsequently unfolding. 

He was married to Carole Hoff, whom he had dated in high school, from 1972 to 1976.

He was politically active and was named the precinct captain for Norwood Park Township. 

He supervised Chicago’s annual Polish Constitution Day Parade starting in 1975. He met, and took a picture with, then-First Lady Rosalynn Carter through the job in 1978, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Gacy tortured and raped 26-year-old Jeffrey Rignall in 1978, but Rignall managed to get away.

Rignall vomited and was led away from the stand ‘in near hysterics’ while testifying at Gacy’s trial a couple years later, according to an Associated Press report published in the Gadsden Times in February 1980, which referred to Rignall as a ‘self avowed bisexual.’

‘I was hit in the face by a dish cloth or a rag … it had a cold feeling and I had a buzzing bee in my head and I went unconscious,’ Rignall said, adding that he’d needed daily psychiatric treatment since the incident.

He was orally and anally raped and left by a statue in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, Rignall recounted in his book 29 Below. 

The depravity of Gacy’s crimes shocked the nation, and he was executed at Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois in 1994 after spending more than a decade on death row.

Cook County Sheriff’s deputies carry out a section of flooring from Gacy’s Illinois home in 1978 while looking for bodies. They found 26 under the home

Authorities look through buckets containing jaw bones and teeth in the undated photo above

Authorities used genealogy websites to find potential relatives of the eight victims exhumed in 2011. That’s how they found Alexander’s mother and half-brother, who provided DNA samples

The identification of Alexander, the latest victim to be named, came together when the sheriff’s department teamed up with a nonprofit called the DNA Doe Project, which uses genetic information to locate relatives of dead people who have not been identified. 

The organization compared the DNA profile from the unidentified victim’s remains to profiles on a genealogy website to find potential relatives. That led it to Alexander’s family, and Alexander’s mother and half-brother provided their DNA for comparison.

Between the genetic testing, financial records, post-mortem reports and other information, investigators were able to confirm that the remains were Alexander’s.

The submission of DNA from people who suspected Gacy might have killed their loved ones has helped police solve at least 11 cold cases of homicides that had nothing to do with Gacy, who was executed in 1994. 

It has also helped families find loved ones who while missing, were alive, including a man in Oregon who had no idea his family was looking for him.

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