The announcement by Chicago's Cook County Sheriff's Office on January 11 with the go-ahead for a search at an apartment building on the city's northwest side -- where more remains from victims of serial murderer, John Wayne Gacy, may lie -- should be welcome by families of the missing who have spent 35 years or more searching for their sons. But it was also welcome news for former Chicago Police Detective Bill Dorsch who has been trying to get authorities to examine the property for almost that long.
Most recently, in July 2012, Dorsch arranged for the Cook County Sheriff's Office to interview neighbors who lived there in the 1970s and knew Gacy as the maintenance man for the building. All of them spoke to Sheriff's officers about Gacy digging trenches in the yard, which lay open for weeks and then were filled-in overnight. Some, like Mike Nelson -- Gacy's teenage assistant at the property -- spoke of Gacy black-topping the driveway by first digging a 6 x 10" hole.
As a documentary-maker, I've been following Dorsch for more than a year and recorded interviews with those same neighbors, including Mike Nelson and another who lived in the basement apartment next to Gacy's workshop, former Chicago Police officer Bruno Muczinski. Our interviews were recorded in the spring of 2012 and posted by my partner, former editor-in-chief of the Chicago Reader, Alison True at www.johnwaynegacynews.com.
Still other interviews, like that of neighbor, Lynn Troester, have existed since 1998, when a previous dig was by the Chicago Police Department was instigated. That dig, now referred to by veteran Sun-Times columnist, Michael Sneed as "shoddy," also had supporting evidence including a Ground Penetrating Radar Scan performed by the highly accredited U.S. Radar of Matewan, NJ . The scan was commissioned by Better Government Association and Chief Investigator Mike Lyons is quoted in a Newsweek article from November 23, 1998 as "staggeringly suggestive..." anomalies resembling four human skeletons. Police found very little at the site, however, neighbors, like Nelson, say police dug in the only spot they were told not to.
The Cook County Sheriff's Office has said it will once again use Ground Penetrating Radar, as well as FBI cadaver-sniffing dogs to find remains and the current warrant includes not only the grounds of the apartment building, which police were restricted to in 1998 by an agreement with the landlord and his attorney, Robert Clifford , but the driveway and the basement.
However, the effectiveness of cadaver-sniffing dogs is questioned by many in the law enforcement community and Ground Penetrating Radar can only demonstrate a disturbance beneath the surface and it's open to interpretation what that may be. Couple that with the sheriff's announcement that they expect a search by Ground Penetrating Radar to last only a day -- a very limited time window -- it's important that analysis is done by an expert and objective authority.
Given Gacy's history of burying his victims under and around his home on Summerdale Avenue, and disregarding the comments of former Gacy defense attorney Robert Motta when he said recently, "I grilled him all the time... but he never told me about his mother's property being such a site... He was adamant about his love for his mother." (Marion Gacy also lived at the Summerdale Avenue address), there is ample evidence to support a thorough and transparent search when the ground in Chicago thaws in the spring of 2013.