Victim of 1970s serial killer Gacy identified as Minnesota teen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A 16-year-old boy who went missing more than 40 years ago from his home in Minnesota was identified by Chicago authorities on Wednesday as a victim of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

James "Jimmie" Byron Haakenson of St. Paul, Minnesota, told his family in the summer of 1976 that he wanted to visit Chicago and then traveled there. He is the second of Gacy's eight unknown victims to be identified through DNA testing by the Cook County Sheriff's Department since 2011, the department said in a statement.

Gacy worked as a building contractor and sometimes performed as a clown at fundraising events. According to prosecutors, he lured many of his victims to his suburban Chicago home with the promise of construction work.

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Serial killer John Wayne Gacy
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Serial killer John Wayne Gacy
(Original Caption) This is a police photo of John Wayne Gacy, 37, being held for questioning in connection with the discovery late 12/21 of five badly decomposed bodies. The bodies, believed to be of young people, were found in the crawl space of a home owned by Gacy. He operated a construction business from his home and employed several young men, neighbors said.
Sheriff Tom Dart and Detective Sergeant Jason Moran announce on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, in Chicago, the identification of one more victim of John Wayne Gacy, James Byron Haakenson of Minnesota. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Shown are headshots of boys and young men whose bodies have been definitely identified as the victims of John Wayne Gacy. Gacy, 37, is accused of the sex-slayings of 33 boys and young men and is presently on trial in Cook County Criminal Court.
FILE PHOTO -- This is John Wayne Gacy's police arrest photo from Dec. 21, 1978. Following intensive research, investigation and surveillance, Gacy was arrested by the Des Plaines (Ill.) Police Department on Thursday, Dec. 21, 1978. After being charged with and serving time for 33 murders, Gacy was executed in 1994 by lethal injection. Today, Monday, Nov. 23, 1998, technicians began preliminary work on a possible excavation at an apartment building on Chicago's Northwest Side in search of as many as four more possible victims of the mass murderer. The apartment building at one time, was the home of Gacy's mother, and Gacy had done some construction work there. The information regarding the location was recently released from a retired Chicago police officer who said he had seen Gacy carrying a shovel near the area at about 3 a.m. one day in 1975. The former officer reportedly thought little of the Gacy sighting until three years later, when Gacy was charged with 33 murders. The apartment building is about four miles away from Gacy's house. (Des Plaines Police Department, Tim Boyle)
This is an area behind an apartment building on Chicago's northwest side, photographed on Monday, Nov. 16, 1998, where Chicago police may dig in search of as many as six more victims of mass murderer John Wayne Gacy. The possible burial site was found by ground-penetrating radar after information was released recently from a retired Chicago police officer that he had seen Gacy carrying a shovel near the area at about 3 a.m. one day in 1975. The former officer reportedly thought little of the Gacy sighting until three years later, when Gacy was charged with 33 murders. The apartment building is about four miles away from Gacy's house where 29 bodies were found in 1978, 27 in the crawl space and two in the yard. Chicago police are now waiting for the owner of the property to cooperate with the issued search warrant to dig up the area. Gacy was executed by lethal injection in Ill., in 1994. (Photo/Tim Boyle)
The grave of an unidentified victim of John Wayne Gacy is seen at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Forest Park, Illinois, on Wednesday, October 12, 2011. The Cook County Sheriff's Department exhumed eight bodies in the hopes of identifying the victims. (Keri Wiginton/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 23: Chicago Police and hired technicians use a ground penetrating radar device in an attempt to confirm the existence of more bodies, victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacie, 23 November. Authorities are expected to dig the parking lot in the coming days at the apartment building where Gacy's mother lived. The investigation began when press reports quoted a retired Chicago detective as saying that in 1975 he witnessed Gacy carrying a shovel outside the building in the middle of the night. (Photo credit should read JAY CRIHFIELD/AFP/Getty Images)
Behind this apartment building on Chicago's northwest side, photographed on Monday, Nov. 16, 1998, Chicago police may dig in search of as many as six more victims of mass murderer John Wayne Gacy. The possible burial site was found by ground-penetrating radar after information was released recently from a retired Chicago police officer that he had seen Gacy carrying a shovel near the area at about 3 a.m. one day in 1975. The former officer reportedly thought little of the Gacy sighting until three years later, when Gacy was charged with 33 murders. The apartment building is about four miles away from Gacy's house where 29 bodies were found in 1978, 27 in the crawl space and two in the yard. Chicago police are now waiting for the owner of the property to cooperate with the issued search warrant to dig up the area. Gacy was executed by lethal injection in Ill., in 1994. (Photo/Tim Boyle)
Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announces the identify of one John Wayne Gacy's unknown victims during a press conference at the Daley Center in Chicago, Illinois, Tuesday, November 29, 2011. The victim, William George Bundy, who went missing in October of 1976, was 18 years old. Bundy had been working construction jobs for Gacy. (Cook County Sheriff/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
Cook County Sheriff's office officials examine containers that hold the upper and lower jaws and their teeth of the unidentified victims of John Wayne Gacy in June 2011. They were stored for many years at the county's medical examiner's office and in 2009 were buried in a paupers' grave. After the Cook County Sheriff's office obtained a court order, a wooden box containing eight smaller containers shaped like buckets, each holding a victim's jaw bones and teeth was dug up at Homewood Memorial Gardens in June 2011. (Cook County Sheriff's office/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
A helper holds up police tape as a technician operates a ground-penetrating radar device behind an apartment building on Chicago's Northwest Side, Monday, Nov. 23, 1998, in search of as many as four more possible victims of mass murderer John Wayne Gacy. The apartment building at one time, was the home of Gacy's mother, and Gacy had done some construction work there. The information regarding this location was recently released from a retired Chicago police officer who said he had seen Gacy carrying a shovel near the area at about 3 a.m. one day in 1975. The former officer reportedly thought little of the Gacy sighting until three years later, when Gacy was charged with 33 murders. The apartment building is about four miles away from Gacy's house where 29 bodies were found in 1978, 27 in the crawl space and two in the yard. Gacy was executed by lethal injection in Ill., in 1994. (Photo/Tim Boyle)
Shown are headshots of boys and young men whose bodies have been definitely identified as the victims of John Wayne Gacy. Gacy, 37, is accused of the sex-slayings of 33 boys and young men and is presently on trial in Cook County Criminal Court.
John Wayne Gacy Murders.The Body Count Grows
Searchers discovered four more bodies under the home of a building contractor suspected of killing up to 32 teen-age boys 12/26. This brings the grisly find to nine bodies found so far. Chief Edmund Dobbs of the Cook County Sheriff's police said the bodies discovered so far bad been found in just one fourth of the crawl space beneath the home of John Wayne Gacy. Dobbs said the macabre search could last two to three weeks.
(Original Caption) John Wayne Gacy, 36, a convicted sex offender who liked to wear a clown suit at children's parties, covers his face as he is led to a courtroom, 12/22 by a policeman (left) Gacy was charged with slaying a young boy and police investigated reports he had killed more and buried their bodies under his home in a series of sex murders. Gacy ws denied bond.
A Chicago city worker carries shovels to the fenced-in yard of an apartment building on Chicago's northwest side, where investigators are looking for human remains possibly buried in the yard, November 23. Investigators are searching for possible victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who was executed in 1994. Gacy's mother once lived in the building. SUE/HB
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Investigators pulled 27 bodies out of Gacy's house in 1978, and a half-dozen more from his backyard and the nearby Des Plaines River. He was convicted of 33 murders in 1980 and executed in 1994.

In 2011, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart announced a new effort to identify Gacy's eight unidentified victims using DNA from people who feared their relatives were among his victims.

Haakenson, previously known only as Victim No. 24, was last heard from on Aug. 5, 1976, when he spoke to his mother by telephone and told her he was in Chicago, the sheriff's department said on Wednesday.

Haakenson's mother – who has since died - attempted in 1979 to learn if her son was killed by Gacy, but was unable to do so because of a lack of dental records, the sheriff's department said.

DNA samples from Haakenson's two siblings were collected by their local police departments and submitted to the University of Northern Texas Center for Human Identification to test against the unidentified victims' remains, the sheriff's department said.

The results found a "strong genetic association" between Haakenson's siblings and that of the remains of Victim No. 24.

In addition to this information, detectives also used the original missing person report on Haakenson, Social Security Administration data as well as post-mortem reports to identify him.

Haakenson's family was notified of the development on Monday, the department said.

The first success of the push to identify Gacy's still-unknown victims came in November 2011 when investigators were able to name William "Bill" George Bundy as one of Gacy's victims.

Through the process, the sheriff's department has also solved four cold cases, unrelated to Gacy, the department said on Wednesday.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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