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During the effort to help identify the remains of young men murdered by prolific serial killer John Wayne Gacy in the 1970s, investigators got a break in an unrelated case of a teenager found shot to death 36 years ago in San Francisco.  The Cook County Sheriff’s office announced that DNA tests revealed a “genetic association” between the remains of the previously unidentified teen and Dr. Willa Wertheimer, who submitted her DNA in 2011 to the project.

Sheriff Tom Dart said he exhumed the remains of 8 of Gacy’s 33 known victims who were never identified.  He asked relatives of young men, like Wertheimer, who vanished in the 70s to submit DNA to the project in hopes of finding matches.  That led to the identification of one of the eight, William George Bundy, within weeks of exhumations, but Wertheimer’s DNA did not match any of the exhumed victims.  Late last year, the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office submitted tissue samples for unidentified people who died there, including a young man shot to death in 1979.

Like the samples from the unidentified Gacy victims, those samples were run through the federal database, which has more than 7 million profiles.  Dart’s office was notified that there was a “genetic association” between Wertheimer’s DNA sample and that of the unidentified San Fran man.  Wertheimer’s half-brother Andre Drath had disappeared after traveling from Chicago to San Francisco.  Dental records, an “Andy” tattoo and records that show he had traveled to San Francisco, helped corroborate the match.  Drath’s body will be taken to Chicago for burial.

“You should never lose hope in finding your loved one,” Wertheimer said in a release issued by Dart’s office. “He could still be living, or at least in your heart, [you] can know the peace of bringing him home.”

The identification is the latest in a dozen cases that have been solved as the result of the Gacy victim exhumations.  Gacy, one of the most notorious serial killers of American history was executed in 1994.

photo credit: un.frío.atardecer. via photopin (license)

Source:  LATimes

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