GACY INVESTIGATION HELPS SOLVE
COLD CASE IN UTAH
Thursday, September 20, 2012 —In an ongoing effort by the Cook County Sheriff's Office to identify the unidentified victims of John Wayne Gacy, the department has been able to solve numerous unrelated cold missing person cases and have collected over 40 DNA samples from family members of missing persons fitting the known victim profiles. Most recently, the Sheriff's Office was able to identify Daniel Raymond Noe, an Illinois native, who went missing over 30 years ago.
The Noe family resided in Peoria, Illinois, when Daniel left home to travel to Bellingham, Washington, for work purposes in 1977. Then 21-year-old Daniel, a surveyor and factory worker, lived with his friend Larry Wehking in Bellingham, who was also a native of Peoria, IL. According to Daniel's father, Daniel called him on September 30th, 1978 to inform him that he wanted to complete his college studies at Northwestern University in Evanston and would hitchhike his way back to the Chicagoland area. His parents said hitchhiking was not out of the ordinary for their son. Daniel was never seen or heard from again.
As the weeks went by, the Noe family began reaching out to friends, families and Northwestern University to see if anyone had heard from him. His parents said it was unusual for Daniel to not inform them of his whereabouts. They filed a missing person's report on December 12, 1978 and reported the incident to Illinois State Police. While they accepted the fact that their son was most likely deceased, they would send dental records to law enforcement agencies upon hearing of any unidentified deceased persons throughout the last thirty years.
The Sheriff's Office realized that Daniel fit the known victim profile: male, white, 14-25 years of age, potentially traveling through the north side of Cook County, hitchhiker/Greyhound bus traveler, etc. Detectives conducted a database-style search of Daniel's identifiers which rendered no activity. This prompted detectives to visit the Noe residence and obtain DNA samples.
After being tested at the University of North Texas Center for Identification, the DNA samples from Daniel's parents did not match any of the unidentified victims of John Wayne Gacy. However, a genetic association was found in an unidentified deceased person's case in Salt Lake County, Utah. The remains were found on a steep mountain side of Mount Olympus where they were discovered by hikers in 2010. As a result, a four-day search was conducted by the Unified Police Department in Utah for additional evidence. There were no signs of foul play.
After interviewing family members, it was learned that Daniel was an avid mountain hiker. According to his roommate, Larry Wehking, who was the last person to see him alive, he would often accompany Daniel on mountain camping trips and loved the outdoors. He also mentioned that Daniel informed him of his plans to hitchhike back to Illinois and return to Northwestern University. Larry dropped Daniel off on Highway 5 where he was going to begin his trip back home. Sheriff's officials later learned that Highway 5 connects to U.S. Interstate 80 which passes Mount Olympus and continues to Chicago.
Further testing and investigation were able to positively identify the deceased person found on Mount Olympus in Utah as those of Daniel Raymond Noe.
"We would like to thank the University of Northern Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) for their ongoing cooperation in these matters and the Unified Police Department in Utah for their professionalism and excellent police work," Sheriff Dart said. "While solving these cases is a bittersweet moment, the Cook County Sheriff's Office is pleased to give families some sort of closure regarding their missing loved ones."
Since the summer of 2011 the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department has partnered with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) and the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas to resolve cold missing persons and unidentified deceased persons. NamUs is a National Institute of Justice grant program operated by NamUs at the UNTCHI.
After Gacy was arrested in December 1978, it was discovered that some of his victims had never been reported missing by their families. Also, missing person reports from distant jurisdictions may not have found their way to investigators in Cook County, Illinois.
The Cook County Sheriff's Office is seeking information from individuals who:
Had a male relative who went missing between 1970 and 1979 in the United States
Are directly related to the missing person by a blood relationship
Are willing to donate a DNA sample via buccal (cheek) swabs
If you meet the criteria above, arrangements to provide a DNA sample can be made by contacting the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department at 1-708-865-4896.
Family DNA samples will be submitted to the UNT Health Science Center for direct comparison to the DNA profiles of the seven remaining unidentified Gacy victims.
Families of missing persons are also encouraged to contact their local law enforcement agency to file a missing person report – regardless of how long their loved one has been missing – and to enter their missing family member into the NamUs Missing Person database at www.NamUs.gov. NamUs supports missing and unidentified person investigations across the United States through a vast network of cooperating agencies, forensic resources and online databases.