ANOTHER SET OF REMAINS IDENTIFIED
An effort to identify remains of young men murdered by serial killer John Wayne Gacy in the 1970s has led to a break in the unrelated case of an unidentified teenager found shot to death in San Francisco 36 years ago.
The Cook County Sheriff's office announced Wednesday that DNA tests revealed a "genetic association" between Dr. Willa Wertheimer, whose half brother Andre "Andy" Drath went missing decades ago after traveling from Chicago to San Francisco.
Wertheimer submitted her DNA to the office in 2011. At the time, Sheriff Tom Dart said he had exhumed the remains of eight of Gacy's 33 victims who were never identified, and asked the relatives of young men who vanished in the 1970s to submit to DNA testing in the hopes of finding a match in the federal DNA database.
Late last year, the San Francisco Medical Examiner's office submitted tissue samples of unidentified people who had died here, including from a young man who was shot to death in 1979.
Wertheimer was notified of the match this month. Drath's body will be returned to Chicago for burial.
The identification is the latest in about a dozen cases that have been closed as a result of the exhumations of Gacy's victims.
Gacy, one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, was executed in 1994.
"This breakthrough illustrates that we should never give up on a cold case," Dart said in a news release.
I think this is so exciting and encouraging and hope that sometime in the not too distant future there will be a nationwide process whereby DNA for all missing/unidentified persons is submitted routinely and consistently into the federal DNA database.
There are tens of thousands of families in the U.S. who have missing/presumed dead loved ones with no closure and no leads left to investigate.