Gacy investigation leads to breakthrough in separate, 36-year-old cold case

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chicago Serial Killer Exhumations Help Identify Unrelated Murder Victim In San Francisco.

Andre Drath was just 16 when he left home in Chicago for San Francisco and was never heard from again, leaving his loved ones in uncertain despair over his fate. CHICAGO — An effort to identify remains of young men killed by John Wayne Gacy in the 1970s has led to yet another break in an unrelated case, this one involving an unidentified teenager found shot to death in San Francisco 36 years ago.SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The young victim in an unsolved 1979 San Francisco homicide has been identified as a result of an investigation into an infamous Chicago-area serial killer, authorities said today. The Cook County Sheriff’s office announced Wednesday that DNA tests revealed a “genetic association” between the remains of the teen, Andre “Andy” Drath, and his half-sister, Dr.

Investigators had ruled out in 2011 that the young San Francisco victim, who authorities in Chicago on Wednesday identified as Andy Drath, was a victim of Gacy, one of America’s most notorious serial killers. When Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart reopened the case in 2011 with the goal of learning their names, his office sought DNA samples of family members of Chicago-area boys who vanished in the late 1970s. Wertheimer sent hers, and while Andy was not one of the eight, her sample matched one in the federal database from a John Doe gunned down decades ago on the streets of San Francisco. “Although I’m terribly sad, the knowing is so much better,” Wertheimer, who still lives in Chicago, told Fox News. “It seemed like a long shot for a kid living on the fringe, after 35 years.

The call marked her first step in a journey that culminated this month with a stunning answer to her brother’s fate — and the start of another mystery 2,000 miles away. Gacy, who was executed in 1994, is known to have killed 33 teenage boys and young men in Chicago between 1972 and 1978, but eight of those victims could not be identified at the time.

The office invited families who thought their missing loved ones could have been murdered by Gacy to provide DNA samples that could be compared with the victims’. Drath’s younger sister, Willa Wertheimer, submitted her DNA because she realized that her brother matched the profile of Gacy’s known victims, who tended to be young white males.

He took a DNA sample from Wertheimer, 51, who had the same mother as Drath, and waited to see whether her genetic profile matched any of those taken from the victims. Investigators notified Wertheimer on Sept. 10 of the match after determining that the unidentified victim matched Drath’s dental records and had a similar tattoo reading “Andy.” The family is now making plans to bring the body home to Chicago and San Francisco police are investigating Drath’s homicide, according to Cook County sheriff’s officials. The sheriff’s investigators, however, uploaded her DNA sample to the Combined DNA Index System, a federal database, to be cross referenced with DNA of unidentified deceased persons throughout the country. In three other cases, DNA samples collected as part of the Gacy probe led to living men, including one in Las Vegas, and another who had been living in Oregon with his spouse and children. He found former missing persons who were still alive, others who had died of natural causes, and three who had died under suspicious or unexplained circumstances.

The investigation has inadvertently illuminated America’s historically poor handling of missing-persons cases and the country’s slipshod system of tracking the unidentified dead — a crisis that the National Institute of Justice has called a “silent mass disaster.” Tens of thousands of people vanish every year, and an estimated 40,000 sets of human remains have gone unidentified. Last year, investigators identified Beaudion, a 22-year-old Chicago man who went missing after borrowing his sister’s car to attend a wedding in July 1978.

Beaudion likely was killed in 1978 by a Missouri man named Jerry Jackson, who confessed to the murder but was never charged and has since passed away, investigators say. Investigators were able to confirm to the siblings of Steven Soden that their brother’s remains were found in some New Jersey woods that were discovered by state trooper more than a decade earlier. So Moran reviewed the original report from the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office, and read through Drath’s juvenile records, where he pieced together the boy’s life story. While Wertheimer remained with her father, Drath spent his teens in and out of foster homes and juvenile detention facilities, frequently running away.

It was troubling to think of how easily Drath’s disappearance had fallen through the cracks of a broken system — his unstable home life, his unsupervised arrival in California, his forgotten death, the delayed processing of his remains — and how arbitrarily the pieces had come together.

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