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Victim of 1970s serial killer Gacy identified as Minnesota teen

By Timothy Mclaughlin

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A 16-year-old boy who went missing more than 40 years ago from his home in Minnesota was identified by Chicago authorities on Wednesday as a victim of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

James "Jimmie" Byron Haakenson of St. Paul, Minnesota, told his family in the summer of 1976 that he wanted to visit Chicago and then traveled there. He is the second of Gacy's eight unknown victims to be identified through DNA testing by the Cook County Sheriff's Department since 2011, the department said in a statement.

Gacy worked as a building contractor and sometimes performed as a clown at fundraising events. According to prosecutors, he lured many of his victims to his suburban Chicago home with the promise of construction work.

Investigators pulled 27 bodies out of Gacy's house in 1978, and a half-dozen more from his backyard and the nearby Des Plaines River. He was convicted of 33 murders in 1980 and executed in 1994.

In 2011, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart announced a new effort to identify Gacy's eight unidentified victims using DNA from people who feared their relatives were among his victims.

Haakenson, previously known only as Victim No. 24, was last heard from on Aug. 5, 1976, when he spoke to his mother by telephone and told her he was in Chicago, the sheriff's department said on Wednesday.

Haakenson's mother – who has since died - attempted in 1979 to learn if her son was killed by Gacy, but was unable to do so because of a lack of dental records, the sheriff's department said.

DNA samples from Haakenson's two siblings were collected by their local police departments and submitted to the University of Northern Texas Center for Human Identification to test against the unidentified victims' remains, the sheriff's department said.

The results found a "strong genetic association" between Haakenson's siblings and that of the remains of Victim No. 24.

In addition to this information, detectives also used the original missing person report on Haakenson, Social Security Administration data as well as post-mortem reports to identify him.

Haakenson's family was notified of the development on Monday, the department said.

The first success of the push to identify Gacy's still-unknown victims came in November 2011 when investigators were able to name William "Bill" George Bundy as one of Gacy's victims.

Through the process, the sheriff's department has also solved four cold cases, unrelated to Gacy, the department said on Wednesday.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)