On December 26, 1978 authorities uncovered human skeletal remains in the crawl space of a house in Norwood Park, Illinois, a small community northwest of Chicago. The house was the residence of the executed sexual predator and serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Forensic anthropologists determined the victim was a 22 to 32-year-old, 5’ 9” White/Caucasian male. Found on the body of the young man was a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt or jacket; dark-colored trousers; socks; and a leather belt with buckle. The date of death was most likely between December 1976 and March 15, 1977 based on the location of the remains between two other victims who have since been identified. Of Gacy’s 33 victims this is one of six still unidentified.
NamUs ID: UP10994
Date Body Found: December 26, 1978
Estimated Age: 22-32
Estimated PMI: 1-3 Years
Location: Norwood Park Township, IL
Agency of Jurisdiction
Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department
Jason Moran, Detective Lieutenant
Link to More Information
Image Credit: Betty Pat Gatliff
On October 25, 2021 the DNA Doe Project (DDP), in conjunction with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Chicago, Illinois, announced the identification of a previously unnamed victim of the executed sexual predator and serial killer John Wayne Gacy as Francis Wayne Alexander.
Discovered on December 26, 1978, at the Norwood Park residence of his killer, Alexander’s remains were one of six victims who had previously been unidentified. The date of death was placed between 1972 and 1978, but most likely between early 1976 and March 15, 1977 based on the location of the remains and information learned during the investigation.
In 2019 the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and the DNA Doe Project began a collaboration to consider using investigative genetic genealogy to help resolve some of Cook County’s remaining unidentified victims. Gacy Victim Five was ultimately selected as a promising first case. An attached molar was submitted to Astrea Forensics in Santa Cruz, California, for DNA extraction. The sample was then delivered to HudsonAlpha Discovery in Huntsville, Alabama for Whole Genome Sequencing. Once sequencing was completed the file was sent to Saber Investigations for bioinformatics, whereupon the resulting DNA file was uploaded to GEDmatch. DNA matches in the second cousin range were found, enabling DDP’s team of volunteer genetic genealogists to construct family trees and identify Francis Wayne Alexander as a candidate for Gacy Victim #5.
DNA Doe Project CEO, Margaret Press, stated, “We sincerely thank Lt. Jason Moran and the Sheriff of Cook County Thomas J. Dart for entrusting this case to us. The advances in DNA technology and the expertise of the labs we chose, combined with the fact that a close relative had taken a DNA test, allowed our team of experienced investigative genetic genealogists to identify a candidate quickly. We are honored to have played a part in giving Francis Wayne Alexander his name back and return him to his loved ones. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family.”
DDP wishes to acknowledge the contributions of those groups and individuals who helped solve this case: Lt. Jason Moran and Sheriff Thomas J. Dart of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office; the Cook County Office of the Medical Examiner; Astrea Forensics for DNA extraction; HudsonAlpha Discovery for DNA sequencing; Kevin Lord of Saber Investigations for bioinformatics; GEDmatch for providing their database; our generous donors; and our extraordinary team of DDP investigative genetic genealogists.
Click here for more information about the search for the name of Gacy Victim Five.
Last Updated: October 30, 2021