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DNA proves mother’s son misidentified by examiner

UPDATE:  7/19/17 –  Original story is below this update.

It has been five long years since the last victim of John Wayne Gacy was identified and today the Cook County Sheriff’s office has announced they have identified another young man.  James Haakenson’s remains have been identified.  Haakenson went missing from Minnesota in 1976.  A Cook County sheriff’s office spokeswoman said Wednesday morning that Haakenson was identified as a victim of Gacy this month.  It has been five years since another of Gacy’s victims was identified.

John Wayne Gacy murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois.  He was the serial killer that was known as Pogo the Clown as he would entertain and children’s birthday parties.  His victims were found in the basement of his home in 1979 and later 26 in the crawlspace and 3 other bodies were found in other areas beneath his home.   On May 10, 1994, John Wayne Gacy was executed by lethal injection.


James Byron Haakenson – Cook County Sheriff

I was reading the People story about Sherry Marino, whose son, Michael, 14, was believed to have been killed by John Wayne Gacy in October of 1978. He was labeled the fourteenth victim when his body was unearthed from a crawl space beneath the Chicago home of the serial killer. A forensic dentist, Edward Pavilion was the one that identified Michael from dental records, but Sherry was not as positive. She was told that the dental records had no missing teeth, and she knew he had one as she was with her son when a tooth was pulled in March 1976. Also, the clothing didn’t match Michaels.  Another difference is that the Chicago Tribune reported in October of 2011 that Marino said her son never broke his collarbone, but the body that was identified as Michael had a broken collarbone.

For forty years, Sherry visited the grave, but she had her doubts it was her son and in 2012 she had his body exhumed and DNA testing done. It showed that the body in the grave was not Michael. Then Sherry went one step farther, she had Michael’s best friend, Ken Parker, who disappeared the same day exhumed in  2014. She thought that maybe Michael and Ken’s bodies had been mixed up, but DNA showed that there was no match.



So, if the body in the grave is not Michael’s. Who is it? There is a possibility the bodies could have become comingled in the crawlspace or some type of mix up while they were being identified. If so, is it possible that Michael’s body ended up in the grave of another family whose loved one was murdered by Gacy?

The sheriff department will be sending the DNA sample to the National Missing Persons database to see if there is a match and they can find who the body’s belong to. In the meantime, Sherry hopes her son is still alive.

“I don’t want to leave this earth not knowing where he is.”

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