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Doctor defends his examination of John Wayne Gacy victim

Dr. Edward Pavlik an orthodontist who identified victims serial killer John Wayne Gacy studies dental X-ray Michael Marino. The X-ray

Dr. Edward Pavlik, an orthodontist who identified the victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, studies a dental X-ray of Michael Marino. The X-ray was rediscovered Oct. 7 in a South Side evidence warehouse. Marino was named as one of Gacy's victims, but his mother now harbors doubts the identification was correct. provided photo

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Updated: May 9, 2012 9:54AM

An orthodontist who examined serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s victims is defending his identification of Michael Marino as one of them.

Edward Pavlik said X-rays of Marino’s mouth before he was killed show dental fillings that were identical to those in a body found in the crawl space of Gacy’s home in 1978. “I am a perfectionist,” Pavlik said. “I would never have signed off on this if it wasn’t correct.”

The identification of Marino as one of Gacy’s 33 victims was at the center of a court ruling last week. A judge allowed Marino’s mother, Sherry Marino, to exhume the body to conduct DNA tests. The exhumation has not taken place yet.

For years, Marino has harbored doubts about whether the body was correctly identified as her son — even though it was found next to the body of Michael’s friend, who was reported missing the same day. Her lawyer, Robert M. Stephenson, said he grew concerned when he saw a dental chart created about seven months before Michael, 14, disappeared on Oct. 24, 1976. The chart showed Michael was missing one of his second molars. But the autopsy report said the victim had all of his second molars.

Stephenson said he spoke to an expert who thinks it’s unlikely Michael’s second molar could have erupted in the seven months before he vanished.

Pavlik said that’s not true. Those molars normally erupt around age 12, but can come in as late as age 15, he said.

Stephenson said he plans to speak to Pavlik before advising Marino whether to go ahead with the exhumation.

“I am happy to see any documentation he has,” Stephenson said. “If it conclusively proves it is Michael, I would ask Ms. Marino not to perform the exhumation.”

Stephenson said he had filed requests for the X-rays under the Freedom of Information Act earlier this year but was told they could not be found.

The X-rays were found on Oct. 7, while Pavlik and Cook County sheriff’s officials were looking for evidence collected in the cases of eight unidentified Gacy victims at a South Side warehouse, said Steve Patterson, a sheriff’s spokesman. On Wednesday, Sheriff Tom Dart said he is searching for relatives of those eight unnamed victims in an attempt to identify them.

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