Nightly News   |  October 15, 2011

Decades after murders, new twists in Gacy case

John Wayne Gacy murdered 33 young men and buried them in his home, but police never identified eight bodies. New technology might answer who those men were, and it brings up new questions. NBC's Stephanie Gosk Reports.

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LESTER HOLT, anchor: He was one of the most notorious mass killers of his time, and those of a certain age will remember John Wayne Gacy , the Chicago murderer who brought fear to that city more than three decades ago. Now, after so many years, some new twists have emerged, as we hear from NBC 's Stephanie Gosk .

STEPHANIE GOSK reporting: The police arrested John Wayne Gacy in his Chicago home on December 21st , 1978 , and for months afterwards, the bodies kept coming out.

Mr. ROBERT EGAN (Prosecutor): He said that he had 30 bodies buried in his crawl space, and nobody really believed him.

GOSK: Thirty-three in total, young men between the ages of 14 and 22 lured into his home, sexually assaulted and murdered. Gacy , who sometimes worked as a volunteer clown, was convicted and eventually executed by lethal injection.

But a mystery remained: eight unidentified victims. Now, more than 30 years later, with modern technology at his disposal, Chicago Sheriff Tom Dart wants to know who they were.

Sheriff TOM DART: Now, through DNA , families that had no hope of having a match now have the absolute hope. We can be definitive in saying this is or is not your loved one.

GOSK: So the police dug up the eight sets of remains and sent them to this lab at the University of North Texas for DNA analysis . To find possible matches, police have opened a hotline and are asking families, like the Bodians , for DNA samples. Twenty-two -year-old Edward went missing in 1978 .

Ms. RUTH RODRIGUEZ (Victim's Sister): It's been 33 long years not knowing what happened to my brother. I would like to know one way or another .

GOSK: Investigators believe most, if not all eight victims will be identified; but they uncovered new leads in this dusty Chicago evidence room. While looking through the boxes, investigators also found plane tickets to at least 10 different states during the same time he was murdering young men here in Chicago . They thought to themselves, 'If he was murdering them here, what are the chances he wasn't committing the same crimes while he was on the road?' At the time, there were no computers or missing people databases, tools investigators have now used to possibly link Gacy to 27 unsolved cases around the country.

Sheriff DART: We're running out some of these leads right now, and we're just finding some intriguing patterns.

GOSK: Technology can now answer decades old questions about one of the most monstrous crimes in US history ; and, chillingly, it may be raising some new ones. Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, Chicago .