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
The dentist in charge of identifying serial John Wayne Gacy’s victims said Friday his reputation is being smeared by lawyers who claim one of the bodies was misidentified.
Dr. Edward Pavlik said he’s certain he correctly identified body No. 14 as the remains of Michael Marino, a missing 14-year-old North Sider.
The body identified as Marino was among 29 of the killer’s victims found buried on his suburban Chicago property in 1978. Another four were found in the Des Plaines River. Gacy was executed in 2004.
On Oct. 25, attorneys for Marino’s mother announced that their own private DNA testing confirmed her longtime suspicion that the body she buried was not her son.
But in a press release Friday, Pavlik insisted his dental identification of Marino was correct. Other experts including the president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences reviewed the X-rays and dental records of Marino and of body No. 14 and confirmed the identification, he noted.
“All this is personally disturbing to me, as the accusations of a misidentification are a reflection of my personal competence, credibility and professionalism, and that of all the forensic scientists who rendered opinions in the case,” said Pavlik, who also headed a team that identified the 273 victims of the American Airlines Flight 191 crash in 1979.
Robert M. Stephenson, an attorney for Marino’s mother, responded that the ID numbers on Pavlik’s report and a tag on the body in the Marino casket both match.
But the jawbone was missing from the casket when the body was exhumed for DNA testing, Stephenson said. He said the protocol was to return the jawbone to the casket for burial with the body.
“Is it possible that Dr. Pavlik got a misnumbered jawbone from the medical examiner, correctly ID’d the jaw, but the jawbone was returned to the wrong remains?” Stephenson asked.