Presumed Gacy Victim Found Alive, Reunited With Family (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
A former Aurora man thought to be one of eight unidentified victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy has been located, alive and well, in Florida after not being heard from by his family for 34 years.
Harold Wayne Lovell reportedly disappeared in 1977 when, at the age of 19, his father left, tension mounted with his mother and he wound up living in a series of foster homes, CBS Chicago reports. Lovell ended up in Florida where he remains today, now 53 years old.
The man has now reunited with his family, who had presumed, after seeing a reconstructed police sketch of an unidentified Gacy victim that resembled Lovell, that he had died. Lovell was reunited with his family, now living in Alabama, on Tuesday.
"I saw family I never thought I had," Lovell explained to CBS. "I went from having no family to having more than I can imagine. It's just all been sweet."
Lovell's family members were clued in that the man was still alive and well by the Cook County sheriff's department, which reopened the Gacy case two weeks ago. The department has exhumed the bones of the killer's eight unidentified victims for DNA testing. They have urged relatives of anyone in the area who disappeared between 1970 and Gacy's 1978 arrest and is still unaccounted for to see if they can find a match.
Lovell's sister Theresa Hasselberg told the Daily Herald she always had a "little glimmer of hope" that what she had been told by her mother about her brother's death was not true. Their mother, the Chicago Tribune reports, died in 2001.
As of earlier this month, Sheriff Tom Dart said about 70 families have come forward and contacted the department about potential Gacy victims. Last week, one apparent survivor of a Gacy attack, Patrick Dati, came forward about his traumatizing experience.
Gacy was convicted of murdering 33 people, most of whom were buried in a crawl space under his home. The infamous killer admitted his crimes to detectives before he was executed in 1994.
For further information, the sheriff's department is asking people to go to or call 1-800-942-1950. www.cookcountysheriff.com