Man believed to be Gacy victim is found living in Montana
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter December 19, 2013 1:28PM
FILE - This 1978 file photo shows serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Three vials of Gacy's blood were recently discovered by Cook County Sheriff's detective Jason Moran. The sheriff’s office is creating DNA profiles from the blood of Gacy and other executed killers and putting them in a national DNA database of profiles created from blood, semen, or strands of hair found at crime scenes and on the bodies of victims. What they hope to find is evidence that links the long-dead killers to the coldest of cold cases and prompt authorities in other states to submit the DNA of their own executed inmates and maybe evidence from decades-old crime scenes to help them solve their own cases. (AP Photo)
Updated: January 21, 2014 11:13AM
Robert Hutton fit the John Wayne Gacy victim profile. The California native was 21 when he went missing in 1972, hitchhiking from New York to California, and passing through Chicago during Gacy’s killing spree.
But a Cook County Sheriff’s investigation into Gacy’s eight unidentified victims has led detectives to find Hutton living in rural Montana.
Now, after 41 years presumed dead, Hutton has been reunited with his father and sister, the sheriff’s office announced Thursday.
Sheriff’s detective Jason Moran, who leads the Gacy investigation, sent a deputy to Hutton’s Montana home in April, then spoke with him on the phone and asked if he was the man they’re looking for.
“I said, ‘Well your sister thinks you could have been killed by John Gacy and that’s why you haven’t been around.”’ Moran said. “He was very surprised. He was surprised that they were still looking for him. ‘You mean they’re still looking for me?’ and I said, ‘Yes they are.’”
The discovery was prompted by Hutton’s sister, who called the sheriff’s office in February 2012 — one of hundreds believing a missing relative might be a Gacy victim.
She believed her brother may have encountered Gacy while traveling west. Instead, he was hitchhiking from state to state, working construction jobs, and lost contact with his family.
“I sensed a little bit of regret when I was speaking with him,” Moran said. “He said that he had just gotten caught up in the ’70s lifestyle, so to speak . . . years went by and he became a little bit embarrassed that he hadn’t had contact with his family, and I think it made it easier to dismiss them.”
Hutton met up with his father in June, who is now 86, living in Seattle and suffering from laryngeal cancer, unable to speak, Moran said. And he has plans to meet up with his sister, a Hurricane Katrina survivor who now lives in Nevada.
His father’s brother-in-law actually lived in the same Montana town and had met Hutton, but the two never exchanged last names, Moran said. Hutton’s mother has since died.
Hutton was among 150 missing persons reported to the sheriff whose family members think they may have fallen victim to Gacy. The sheriff’s office usually receives a flood of calls when Gacy investigation news resurfaces, and Dart said he welcomes the chance to bring closure to other families.
“If nothing else good were to come for people who have questions about missing persons, if everyone would just get their DNA swabbed, put it into the national database, you’d be amazed at how many missing persons case would be solved,” Dart said.
There are still seven unidentified Gacy victims. And with every missing persons lead, Moran analyzes the demographics of a Gacy victim. The serial killer targeted males in their late teens to early 20s, hitchhikers, those working in construction and in some cases, homosexual prostitutes.
Since Sheriff Tom Dart reopened the Gacy investigation in 2011, one of the unidentified victims, William George Bundy, has been identified. Bundy, a 19-year-old North Sider and Senn High School dropout, was among at least 33 people Gacy killed in a spree that lasted from 1972 to 1978. Gacy was executed in 1994.
Bundy was among 29 victims found in 1978 on Gacy’s property at 8213 W. Summerdale in unincorporated Norwood Park Township. Four other Gacy victims were found in the Des Plaines River. Gacy told the police he dumped a fifth victim in the river, but that body was never recovered.
Seven missing persons cases have been closed and two cold cases unrelated to Gacy have been solved as a result of the investigation.
Anyone who believes their male relative might be a Gacy victim should call (708) 865-6244.