MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Cook County Sheriff’s office has identified another victim of the notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy: a 16-year-old runaway from Minnesota.
According to a report from our sister station in Chicago, James Byron Haakenson was believed to have been killed in August 1976.
Lorie Sisterman, Haakenson’s sister, said her DNA helped identify her brother’s remains. The DNA was submitted after someone in the family wondered if James had been a Gacy victim.
Sisterman, the oldest sibling, said the father of the family drank and wasn’t always around. Her brother was a troubled youth and ran away to Chicago at the age of 16.
Jimmy Haakenson called his mother from Chicago on August 5, 1976. Then, no word for 40 years.
This week, a Cook County Sheriff’s detective went to Minnesota to tell the family the news.
“We talked. And then he says, ‘I regret to inform you that, yes…’ A couple of people burst out crying. And all I could say was, ‘Wow,” Sisterman says. “I was stunned. It just hit me.”
There are still six unidentified victims of serial killer Gacy, who was executed in 1994. It had been five years since his last victim was identified.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Department announced in a news release that Sheriff Tom Dart on Wednesday will discuss the investigation that he launched in 2011. His office exhumed the skeletal remains of eight of at least 33 young men Gacy stabbed or strangled in the 1970s. Dart also asked that relatives of young men who disappeared between 1970 and Gacy’s 1978 arrest submit to DNA testing in hopes of finding a match.
Gacy was executed in 1994.
Jimmy Haakenson’s mother – who has since passed away – tried to learn in 1979 if her son was one of Gacy’s victim. Dental records, however, were not available and were the main scientific method at the time to determine if Jimmy was one of the victims.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)